An osteopath is someone who treats patients with anything from back pain, to joint complaints to digestive disorders.
Osteopathy jobs in the UK will take detailed case histories from patients, assess general posture and check the joints or muscles for restrictions or tensions in movements.
What is an Osteopath?
An osteopath (or osteotherapist) will treat patients with several conditions, including, digestive disorders, back pain, injuries and joint pain. Osteo, meaning bone, is a popular practice across the country, but osteopathy in the UK is much more than just treating and managing conditions surrounding bones.
An osteopath will treat numerous conditions such as:
- Back pain.
- Digestive issues.
- Headaches and migraines.
- Joint or muscle pain.
Osteopathy jobs revolve around people’s health & wellbeing and need to have excellent coordination and communication skills. They may provide advice on exercise and posture to encourage recovery and help prevent further problems from reoccurring.
An osteopathic doctor can take a holistic approach to treat conditions. They will also look at the underlying causes of the illness, and not just focus on the symptoms.
Osteopaths require excellent communication, problem-solving and coordination skills.
Osteopaths take detailed case histories from patients, assess posture and check joints or muscles for restrictions or tensions in movements. Osteopathic jobs include performing physical examinations through a refined sense of touch (palpation) to find and identify weak, restricted or strained areas of the body.
The main responsibilities for an osteopath are:
- Assess patient posture.
- Carry out physical examinations of patients.
- Carry out osteopathy treatment plans with patients.
- Check tension in muscles.
- Maintain patient records.
- Make lifestyle recommendations to patients.
- Refer patients to GPs or doctors where needed.
- Use different techniques to help patients, including soft tissue techniques, gentle release and auscultation.
A doctor of osteopathy must be on the osteopath register of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) to practice. The GOsC only accepts registration from practitioners who are qualified in osteopathy in a course recognised by the council and who comply with the standards of practice. It is also a health profession which is regulated by law within the UK.
Osteopath salary in the UK varies, as many work on a self-employed basis. Typically, an osteopath will charge patients per hour, and the number of patients you have and the hours you work will affect your overall salary.
Furthermore, your location may affect potential earnings. Osteopathy jobs in London generally attract more patients due to being a high population metropolitan area. Lastly, an osteopath in the NHS will be on a salary basis and will depend on experience and what pay band they are on, as the pay is subject to change according to the agenda for change pay rates. However, an NHS osteopath can increase their salary by working in the private sector outside of their typical working hours.
For self-employed osteopaths, the average charge rate for patients ranges from £35 and £50, for a 30 or 40-minute session. An initial consultation fee is around £48 on average for a 30-minute session, followed by around £42 for follow-up appointments and consultations. Fees can vary on location and experience.
Osteopathy jobs revolve around people’s health & wellbeing and need to have excellent coordination and communication skills.
In order to become an osteopath, you need to have a medical degree of some kind. Osteopath qualifications are not essential, but will help with applications. Postgraduate study is desired, but not necessarily needed, especially since most osteopathy courses in the UK are generally studied at an undergraduate level.
Most osteopaths tend to study courses such as:
- Sports Science
Courses are generally offered at the level of BSc Hons, BOst or BOstMed, depending on the course.
You will also be required to enrol on some professional courses too. These courses generally focus on improving your skills and will form a big part of your training and development - courses will need to be GOsC-approved.
Training and development
An osteopath will need to complete a 30-hour continuing professional development (CPD) each year. Your CPD will also need to include 15 hours of learning with other medical professionals - this is not generally common with a CPD, however, it is required for an osteopath as the role generally has less room for collaboration.
It is also common for an osteopath to consider a postgraduate course. Generally, an osteopath will focus on postgraduate areas such as sports science, child and elderly osteopathic care, if they have not already studied them.
The GOsC is not the only professional body that osteopaths can register with. Osteopaths have been known to also register with institutes such as the Institute of Osteopathy (iO) as well as the University College of Osteopathy, both of whom provide training courses for those who are looking to develop their skills further.
Osteopaths require excellent communication, problem-solving and coordination skills. Also, they need to be able to show sympathy, empathy and sensitivity with their patients. Having superb organisational and observational skills are also crucial.
The skills required to become an osteopath are:
- A logical approach to medical issues.
- An ability to work in a team.
- An ability to work individually and to be able to liaise with other departments or medical professionals.
- An ability to work under pressure.
- Excellent business awareness.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Strong collaboration skills.
An osteopath will have a logical approach to work and be able to diagnose effectively. Having commercial and business awareness is vital, alongside independence and initiative.
Osteopath salary in the UK varies, as many work on a self-employed basis.
Work experience is useful, but not necessarily essential. It is possible to “shadow” an osteopath in some manner before you begin your job, but there will be a limited amount of actual work that you can sit in on, owing to client-patient confidentiality.
Many of the professional bodies for osteopaths, such as the GOsC, will have work experience and internship placements available. These will mainly have you covering clerical tasks, but will also give you a foot in the door within the industry.
There is no official structure for osteopaths but after gaining extensive experience, there are a variety of options. Osteopaths may want to run their own practice after gaining a strong book of contacts or work within a group osteopathic practice. Some choose to become a specialist, for example, sports or choose to work with specialist patients, like the elderly or with children.
It’s common for osteopaths to work freelance. You will need to build a good reputation and work towards expanding your client base, which takes a lot of talent, creativity, effort and time. Others may follow an academic career by applying for General Osteopathic Council jobs, or teach at an approved institution and working in research.
If you decide to work with the NHS, there is a more structured career path laid out for you. This will generally see you taking on management roles or potentially allow you to pursue a career as a practitioner.