In early March, the British School of Osteopathy (BSO)—the first osteopathic manipulation school in Europe—celebrated its 100-year anniversary in London’s St. James’s Palace, a palace owned by British royalty. At the celebration was a member of the British royal family, Princess Anne, also known as The Princess Royal, a longtime patron of the BSO.
Also joining the celebration was AOA Trustee Karen Nichols, DO, dean of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM) in Downers Grove, Illinois.
The two schools are linked by a shared founder: John Martin Littlejohn, PhD, DO, MD, who trained under Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO, before going on to found CCOM in 1900 and England’s BSO in 1917. The BSO trains osteopaths, who practice manipulation only.
“The Dr. Littlejohn connection from the States to the UK was the beginning of the international spread of osteopathic thought,” Dr. Nichols says. “There had been osteopathic physicians who practiced outside the states, but Dr. Littlejohn went out and started a successful school. He is revered in the rest of the world equally with A.T. Still. The fact that the AOA was at this event reinforced the connection that started the international outreach of the profession 100 years ago.”
The AOA’s international focus
Raising the profile of osteopathic medicine internationally is one of five key focus areas in the AOA’s 2017-2019 strategic plan. In particular, the AOA is working with different regulatory authorities to grant recognition of the U.S. DO degree. The AOA recognizes that working with osteopathic groups in these countries is essential to educating not only the government decision-makers, but also the broader public, about the difference between the two health professions and may help advance U.S. DOs’ practice rights abroad.
“Many countries don’t have official legislated practice rights for osteopaths, either,” Dr. Nichols notes. “If U.S. DOs get that, it’s likely to help osteopaths in those countries, too.”
At the BSO event, in addition to meeting with leaders in the British osteopath community, Dr. Nichols met osteopaths from Italy, France, Norway, Sweden and Australia.
In the fall, the Osteopathic International Alliance will hold its annual conference in New Zealand, where the AOA will have the opportunity to meet with osteopaths from these countries and many more.