Healthcare & Medical
Osteopaths use manual manipulation and massage to treat disorders of the body's musculoskeletal system, and increase the mobility of joints.
What does an Osteopath do?
Osteopaths use manual manipulation and massage to treat disorders of the body's musculoskeletal system, increase the mobility of joints, boost blood supply to tissues, and relieve muscle tension.
As an osteopath, you would:
- assess patients' condition, paying particular attention to muscles, ligaments and vertebrae
- talk to patients about their medical history
- diagnose problems through physical examination and x-rays
- plan treatment options and discuss them with clients
- use massage, manipulation and pressure to mobilise joints
- keep accurate records of patients' treatment and progress
- educate patients about how to prevent and/or improve conditions
- give clients exercises to do at home
- keep up to date with new treatment techniques and technologies
- refer patients to GPs or other medical practitioners as necessary.
Key skills and interests
To become an osteopath, you would need:
- excellent communication skills
- good coordination and practical skills
- an interest in science, particularly human biology and anatomy
- a good level of physical fitness
- the ability to gain trust and reassure your clients
- good problem solving skills
- patience and persistence.
Working hours and conditions
The majority of osteopaths are self-employed, so flexible working hours may be possible. Your hours will depend on the number and type of clients you have. You may need to work some evenings and weekends to fit in with your clients’ needs.
You would usually carry out your work in a consulting room, which may be part of a larger health or medical centre. You might also treat patients in their own homes. If so, you would need a current drivers' licence.
This work can be physically demanding.
How to become an Osteopath?
Entry Level Education
To become an osteopath you usually have to complete a degree in clinical sciences at university, with a major in osteopathic studies, followed by a postgraduate qualification in osteopathy. Alternatively, you can complete a double degree in health science and applied science (osteopathy).
To get into degree courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. Entry can be highly competitive, and applicants may be required to attend an interview.
It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia before practising as an osteopath in any State or territory in Australia.
Employment opportunities for osteopaths are projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.
An ageing population, sustained strong growth in the consumption of healthcare services generally, and increasing use of all forms of therapies to help relieve pain and stress, will lead to new openings for osteopaths.