What is a D.O.?

Garrett Sterk
Garrett SterkDO
Family Practice

By Garrett Sterk, DO of Avera Medical Group Sibley & Osceola Regional Health Center

“What exactly is a D.O.?” It’s a question I’m asked often from patients, as well as from friends and family. While nearly everyone has an idea of what an M.D., chiropractor, pharmacist, nurse, and most other health professionals are, very few can identify what the initials D.O. stand for, much less what they mean. Prior to attending medical school, I admit that the question would have stumped me as well.

The profession of Doctor of Osteopathy (abbreviated D.O.) can be traced back to post-Civil war 19th century. It was founded by a physician named Andrew Taylor Still who had become disillusioned with medical practices of the day and sought a better way to practice. He developed a philosophy of medicine that focused on the unity of body, mind, and spirit in order to facilitate wellness in an individual. The first school- now called A.T. Still University in Kirksville, Missouri, was developed in 1892, and is now my alma mater.

D.O.s today receive training with a focus on the wholeness of a person based on what Dr. Still taught. They practice in all medical specialties and can utilize all the tools available to modern medicine. Besides the philosophy, the main difference in training between an M.D. and D.O. in medical school is the hands-on techniques employed to treat a variety of health conditions known as OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine). Some common conditions for which this can be utilized include back pain, headaches, sinus issues, and much more.

Dr. Still once said, “To find health should be the object of the doctor, anyone can find disease.” This is a quotation that I take to heart- medicine should not be just about finding illness but achieving health. At Avera Medical Group Sibley and Osceola Regional Health Center, we’d love to partner with you in achieving this goal. Dr. Sterk is accepting new patients, call 712-754-3658 to schedule your appointment today!