Osteopathy is a safe and effective form of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of health problems. It uses manual therapy, exercise and advice, to promote the optimum environment for health, based on the individual needs of the patient.
Most osteopaths work as self-employed primary care practitioners in private practice, able to diagnosis and treat a wide range of health issues, although there are opportunities to work within the NHS and in secondary care.
They have expertise in the musculoskeletal system and its relationship to other systems of the body in the promotion of good health.
Osteopaths provide a package of care that includes a varied range of interventions specific to each patient, including:
- manual therapy techniques
- physical therapy (rehabilitation and exercise prescription)
- health advice and
- self-management guidance
Who would I work with?
Osteopaths are trained to work with patients of all ages. They are skilled at identifying a wide range of health conditions, and will refer to other healthcare professionals to achieve the best outcomes for the patient. A significant number of osteopaths work in private healthcare, working closely with other healthcare specialists.
Currently, the vast majority of osteopaths are self-employed although there are increasingly opportunities for osteopaths to work in the NHS in multidisciplinary musculoskeletal units, where they may work as part of a team including acupuncturists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychotherapists.
Attractions and challenges of the role
Osteopaths are able to spend substantially more time with patients than most professionals in primary care, and many osteopaths value this opportunity to provide more comprehensive treatment.
Most osteopaths work for themselves, which attracts many people to the profession and allows for flexibility in how the role is undertaken and less restrictive career progression, but does come with the challenges associated with self-employment.
‘Osteopath’ is a protected title by law. All osteopaths must be registered with the General Osteopathic Council to be able to practise in the UK.
Want to learn more?
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
The average income for an osteopath is £46,500. An associate (an osteopath working within an osteopathic or multidisciplinary practice) earns an average of £34,700, while the average for a practice principal is £71,000. Ten per cent of osteopaths earn over £100,000.
(All figures provided from the 2014 Institute of Osteopathy website census of the profession).
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
On graduation, most osteopaths choose to set up their own private clinics, working as a sole practitioner or with other healthcare professionals.
They may then choose to pursue advanced clinical practice pathways through postgraduate training in a particular area of practice such as sports injuries, care of the elderly or working with children. There are also opportunities for study at MSc and PhD level. Non-clinical career roles also exist in teaching, professional development and research providing opportunities to create a varied portfolio career.
In the NHS, osteopaths may choose to expand their post by taking on the management and leadership of a team or by pursuing an ‘extended scope practitioner’ role.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
- Further information Expand / Collapse