International Practice Rights

DOs receive international recognition as fully licensed physicians

Recognition from the UN’s International Labor Organization should help osteopathic physicians gain practice rights throughout the world.

Plan to practice overseas? International recognition of osteopathic physicians just took a significant step forward.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has issued a letter affirming that U.S.-trained osteopathic physicians are fully licensed physicians who prescribe medication and perform surgery. The acknowledgment draws a clear separation between American DOs and osteopaths. Within the international standards that classify jobs to promote international comparability across occupations, U.S.-trained DOs are now categorized with all other physicians as medical doctors.

This recognition is expected to make it easier for DOs to gain practice rights in different countries, and will assist the AOA in executing its strategic priority to expand the international impact of osteopathic medicine.

AOA staff accompanied AOA President Mark Baker, DO, to Geneva, Switzerland, last month to educate international health leaders about the distinctions between U.S.-trained DOs and non-physician osteopaths during the World Health Assembly. The ILO’s letter is a result of their efforts.


  1. I would like to thank Dr. Mark Baker and staff for his hard work and this recognition. It is a huge accomplishment that is long overdue.

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