Career as an osteopath

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Simon Jordan is an osteopath who works for three different osteopathic practices. Two of them are based in gyms. He first discovered the therapy through one of his friends who had a bad back – osteopathy helped him when other treatments failed.

What is osteopathy?

It is a system of healthcare based on the idea that abnormalities in the structure of the body and the way it functions cause many common illnesses.

Who do you help?

I treat people of all ages, from tiny babies to the elderly. Osteopathy can help with all kinds of problems including back pain, arthritis, migraine, repetitive strain injury and sports injuries. A lot of people come to me with spinal pain and back complaints. Because I practise in gyms I also see a lot of sports people.

What happens during a treatment?

The initial consultation usually lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. I ask the patient about all aspects of their life, including their physical and emotional health and their diet. Next, I ask the patient to undress down to their underwear to examine the painful areas of their body. I can then decide whether osteopathic treatment will help them.

I explain everything carefully to the patient, giving them an idea of what they will feel during treatment and how long it should take for their condition to improve. It's essential to get their consent before I start to treat them.

What happens next?

Sometimes I give treatment during the initial consultation, but I may wait until the second visit. Treatment involves using my hands in a range of different techniques. A common technique is manipulation where I give high velocity thrusts to help increase the mobility in a joint. Other techniques include stretching and massage. I sometimes give patients exercises to do at home and advise them on lifestyle changes.

What about the next visit?

The second visit usually lasts 30 minutes. At the end of the session I examine the patient again and ask some more questions to check that there has been an improvement. Some patients need just one or two treatments, but others need between four and six.

Do you ever refer patients to their doctor?

Osteopaths and doctors often work closely together. Part of my training involved learning which conditions osteopaths should not treat. If I suspect someone is suffering from one of those conditions, I send them to their doctor.

Can you describe your training?

I did a four-year degree course. It covered subjects like anatomy, physiology, osteopathic technique, pathology and the diagnosis of disease. In the third and fourth years I did supervised sessions with patients in the clinic attached to the college.

What do you like about your career as an osteopath?

I really enjoy being able to relieve people's pain. I also like the fact that I meet so many people in the course of my work. Everyone has an interesting story to tell! I enjoy being self-employed too, because the harder I work the more I can earn.

What qualities make a good osteopath?

Communication and listening skills are really important – it's essential to build relationships with patients and gain their trust. You must also be good with your hands. The training is demanding, so you do need a genuine interest in health, as well as motivation and dedication.

Simon's route to his career as an osteopath

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels in psychology, biology and physical education.
  • BSc Osteopathic Medicine.

Simon's osteopath tips

  • Contact a local osteopath and ask to talk to them about their work.
  • Having an osteopathic treatment may help you to decide whether you would like to find out more about the therapy.
  • Science A levels, particularly biology, are useful. Some colleges also ask for chemistry.

Osteopath related jobs

Salary of a osteopath

  • Most osteopaths are self-employed, so income varies according to the number of patients they treat and the amount they charge for each session.
  • A new entrant building up a practice could earn £12,000 a year.
  • With experience this could increase to £25,000.
  • Osteopaths with well established practices could earn around £50,000.

Career as an osteopath

  • All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council before they are allowed to practise. Candidates must have a recognised qualification in osteopathy from an accredited osteopathic school.
  • Minimum entry requirements for a degree in osteopathy are usually at least two A levels/four H grades (AC/1-3) in science subjects, including biology and chemistry, and at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3).
  • Postgraduate degrees in osteopathy and short courses for qualified medical doctors are also available.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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