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Purpose and Mission
Osteopaths, also called chiropractors, use skilled evaluation and a broad range of hands-on, manual techniques to identify dysfunctions in the human body. Osteopathic treatments involve techniques such as stretching and massage for treatment of the soft tissues together with directed mobilisation of specific joints and tissues.
Of note, osteopaths must register with the government to practice in Australia, and have at least five years of training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, medical diagnosis and a broad range of osteopathic techniques.
These primary healthcare practitioners have been trained to recognise conditions that must be referred to other medical professionals. Osteopaths also perform standard medical examinations on the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems of patients.
Most osteopaths are self-employed in private practice, and thus do not have a direct supervisor. Those who are employees of clinics, hospitals or larger primary care practices usually report to a service chief or similar mid-level administrator.
Many osteopaths do have direct supervisory responsibilities relating to managing their practice in many cases including training and evaluating other members of the healthcare team. Those who are employed by healthcare providers may also have some personnel oversight duties.
Osteopaths have a minimum of five years of university-level training. Most osteopaths have completed both an undergraduate degree and a Masters in Osteopathy.
All osteopathic practitioners in public practise must be registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia, and many are members of the Australian Osteopathic Association.
Responsibilities of an Osteopath
The primary responsibilities of osteopaths relate to working with patients to diagnose the type and extent of disorders caused by interference with the nervous system. Osteopaths treat patients by adjusting the spinal column, or apply other measures including exercise, water, light and heat to treat problem areas.
Key work-related tasks for osteopaths and chiropractors include: