A patient asked me the other day, what does it take to be a good osteopathic student? It's something I've thought about a fair bit and wanted to finally put it down on paper. It's what I wish someone had said to me while I was at uni.
1) Passion for what we do
If you really want to be an osteopath, you need to believe in the philosophy and understand which osteopathic technique to apply and when. You have to be convinced that we offer a different approach to other modalities out there and that is what gets us results. It is not a highly-paid job by any means; what you earn is limited by how many hours you can or want to work. If you want to make more, you will need to diversify your business or manage associates. That's not the same as putting your hands on someone and helping them get better!
2) Grit to get through five years of study - just to graduate - and an ongoing thirst for knowledge
Passion is not enough, you really need to be able to knuckle down and put in the hours. It's an intensive course, with considerably more face-to-face hours than an basic science or arts degree. In the first 3 years, we were at uni practically every day, put on top of that a couple of hours a week practicing in our own groups. Ask yourself, do you want a practitioner who studied at the last minute and has since forgotten their anatomy and physiology? Ongoing professional study is important too, to keep in touch with current research and to stop you from getting into a rut and burning out.
3) Being comfortable asking a complete stranger personal questions and then touching their body
Most of us are used to being in close contact with family and friends. It is a mental leap to extend this familiarity to a complete stranger. You also need to be okay with being poked and prodded as part of the uni course. This is a tough one, you do get better at it with practice but you have to be okay with it at a fundamental level.
4) A basic understanding of what being healthy is all about
We all have habits and different body types; nobody expects their osteopath to look like an Olympic athlete but there seems to be an unspoken assumption that you have some idea of health and what it means to you. This could be in regards to exercise, nutrition, mental well-being or spirituality. An acceptance of who you are, as well as a sense of humour, usually helps too!