As a patient-centred profession, osteopathic manual practitioners need to develop a number of professional skills that can help them deliver safe, effective, and ethical treatments. Along with the practical techniques of the profession, you’ll need to know how to approach patients with care and understanding while arriving at the best possible solution for the individual. Interpersonal skills and critical thinking are essential qualities to build during your training.
While working on challenging osteopathic problems and gaining real clinical experience, students at CAO learn firsthand the importance of applying these professional skills to their practice. Here’s a look at some of the top skills you’ll need to use during and after your osteopathy training.
1. Good Communication Skills Are Important
When working with patients of any kind, good interpersonal and communication skills are essential. When it comes to osteopathy, your patients will be looking for you to assist them with a number of physical problems. Treating those clients with respect, empathy, and your full attention will reassure them that they’re in safe hands. At the same time, a big part of communication is listening to your client carefully. Let them explain what they are experiencing and their health history. In turn, you can customize a treatment just for them. By building a positive rapport with patients from the get-go, you can maintain good professional relationships with clients throughout your career.
2. Exercise Your Problem-Solving Skills
In an osteopathy specialization, you’ll be working with clients experiencing a variety of different challenges, from postural problems to sports injuries to long-term pain to sleeping difficulty. Every patient is different, and their symptoms will present in different ways. As an osteopathic manual practitioner, you’ll need to apply your knowledge of osteopathic principles and surgical level functional anatomy to pinpoint the osteopathic lesion. Often, a patient may be experiencing pain in one area of the body while the source of the pain is located somewhere else. In that case, good problem-solving skills will help you to consider all possibilities and arrive at the right course of action for your patient.
3. Pay Attention to Detail as an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner
Strong attention to detail will help you look beyond where symptoms may be expressing themselvews and consider the whole body. At CAO, we focus on teaching principles-based osteopathy in which students get an in-depth understanding of anatomy and physiology so they can treat the layers of bodily structure on a personalized level. Our students learn to closely examine all the interrelated symptoms and functions of the body–including the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, systems, viscera and fascia. By developing this kind of attention to detail, our students are able to look beyond the surface of pain and find ways to return the body to normal health so it can self-heal and self-regulate.
4. Practice Adaptability When Working With Patients
A good osteopathic manual practitioner doesn’t see themselves as a healer but as a facilitator of health. You’ll be working with the body to restore its natural balance and functions rather than imposing treatments upon it. Working with the body in this way requires a certain level of flexibility. You’ll need to adapt your practice to the physical condition, medical history, and personal preferences of the patient. Often, you may have a solution in mind that does not work with a specific patient’s body. In that case, keeping an open mind when trying a new course of action will help you better accommodate the needs of the individual.
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