University College Of Osteopathy (UCO) Practice Educator, Angela Stevenson has been in practice for an incredible 38 years! Angela has worked in the UK and in the Middle East, and continues to be highly motivated and passionate about her work as an osteopath and educator. Angela shares 3 reasons why to train as an osteopath.
As an osteopath I have a certain degree of freedom to express my way of treating people in the way I think best, and this aligns with an evidence based practice approach which includes the expertise of the individual clinician, along with the values and preferences of the patient and research evidence. Of course there are Osteopathic Practice Standards which have developed over the time I have been practising and these are important so that there is a good level of professionalism that is true for any Osteopath.
However it is also well known that each Osteopath has their own ‘flavour’. This can initially be frustrating for students when learning and for patients at times. Students may become confused when a tutor in clinic talks about treating a particular patient in a particular way, and on another day, a different tutor has a different approach. However this should not be thought of as a negative aspect. Indeed it is fascinating how different approaches can still lead to an improvement in the patient’s condition. Similarly when patients are seeking osteopathic help it can be disconcerting to find that one osteopath may work completely differently to another. Again, this should be viewed as a positive attribute of the profession and allows a patient to find an osteopath that suits them. It is this very aspect that attracted me to osteopathy and still interests me even after all these years.
A definition of holism is : a theory that the universe and especially living nature is correctly seen in terms of interacting wholes (as of living organisms) that are more than the mere sum of elementary particles (Merriam-Webster)
In medicine and healthcare : the treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
I have always been amazed by the human body and its many parts and how they all work together like an orchestra. If one of those parts is ‘out of tune’ with the others, symptoms sound like warning bells that clash with the whole and get louder and more complex over time. Holism can be found in many areas of healthcare and I tell my patients that, like the spokes of a wheel, osteopathy provides a particular approach to a condition in a patient and it may be that they will need to support this with other options such as hypnotherapy or surgery in some instances. At its foundation, osteopathy is a system that tries to bring into account the whole orchestra, and listen out for those little disharmonies that are spoiling the overall sound.
Following on from my last comment I value my profession for its variety. No two working days of my 38 years have been the same. There is always a patient that presents with a never seen before challenging problem, a new technique or approach to try, or a new piece of research that challenges our way of thinking. Every patient has a unique personality and set of complaints that makes interacting with them so interesting. The challenge of my day may be to be sympathetic to an older lady who has just been widowed or listen to someone who needs to offload their frustrations. In one consultation I may be gently supporting the tissues of a patient to find an easier point of balance and the following consultation I may be manipulating a spinal joint to give greater mobility. The huge variety of presenting problems combined with the many treatment options I have at my disposal make my work uniquely diverse.
Osteopathy is a unique and rewarding profession that is ever changing and challenging.
Angela Stevenson was chatting with Head of Clinical Practice, Francesca Wiggins.