Monday, September 5, 2016

Osteopathic Education: 5 Years vs 1 Year

This is a review posted by registered massage therapist & manual osteopath, Andrew Subieta, DOMP who is an alumnus of National Academy of Osteopathy in Toronto. He has also studied at the first osteopathy school in Ontario, the Canadian College of Osteopathy.  

I studied at CCO and NAO

Choosing the profession is a very difficult decision but when we finally know what we would like to do in our professional life, there is always a dilemma which school to pick. When I decided to study osteopathy 18 years ago, right after graduating from the Massage Therapy College, there was only one school providing this type of education – the Canadian College of Osteopathy (CCO). Now there are several programs available at the different schools. It’s not the secret that CCO has a very good reputation around the world to be one of the best schools offering manual osteopathy program. I can confirm that after studying there for 5 years. It gave me the opportunity to establish successful practice and open my own clinic.

A few years ago I heard about NAO offering a 1 year full time program in Manual Osteopathy. Health care professionals can complete it within 6 months. At first I was shocked but finally I became intrigued. I decided to enroll in on-line program myself. I can say with integrity now that NAO offers a very decent education. It concentrates on science based osteopathic techniques like Muscle Energy, Joint Mobilization and Soft Tissue Techniques. It introduces students to Cranial Osteopathy, Visceral Manipulation and Counterstrain techniques. In my opinion the program provides a very strong foundation for the future post-graduate education.

As the owner of the clinic I always look for good osteopathic practitioners that could join me and be willing to work with me as a team. In the past 6 years I hired 6 practitioners educated in different osteopathic schools in Ontario. Unfortunately I had to let go 5 of them. The only one I am happy to work with is a graduate of NAO. My satisfaction with this professional convinced me to interview several more graduates from this school and decision to hire two more.

In my opinion choosing NAO as an entry level to the osteopathic profession would be a wise choice for several reasons. The school provides excellent business and clinical management course taught by Dr. S. Pourgol. This knowledge is crucial in achieving success. No other osteopathic school in Canada teaches this course. I wish I had this knowledge when I started my practice, it would have helped me to achieve success much faster.

The program leads to fast accreditation without cutting educational hours required by the World Health Organization. As the matter of fact it has the same number of hours as the other part time osteopathic programs. With the osteopathic licence graduates can start working in the profession, continue their education in the different schools like National University of Medical Sciences towards Doctor of Osteopathy degree (where all the graduates from NAO receive a scholarship) and take postgraduate courses. They can find a mentor that will help them to learn more about the profession and improve their technical skills.

The key to success in manual therapy is hands-on experience together with continuously expanding theoretical knowledge. When I studied at CCO it was a big problem for many students. They learned the theory and saw the techniques once or twice during lectures but without possibility of practice they could not memorize them for long and had a problem with retention of many advanced techniques. For this reason the drop-out rate at CCO was around 70%. Over 100 students started the first year and only 27 of us went to the end of the fifth year. Even less wrote and defended their thesis to receive a diploma (DOMP). At NAO the students can go back to watch techniques and lectures on line reviewing it as many times as needed.

Another plus is the fact that NAO accepts candidates without prior health care education. For these candidates I would recommend campus based program over on-line studies. For others with a profession in health care such as Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists or Chiropractors, the on-line course is sufficient. I watched Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology lectures offered at NAO. They are very good and provide more than enough information to have a proficient knowledge at the level of Diploma of Osteopathy.

The school program pays a lot of attention to teach safe and widely accepted techniques without introducing questionable osteopathic concepts that can only frustrate students and lead to the increased therapeutic failure. It emphasizes the importance of following scope of practice and code of ethics set by the International Osteopathic Association.

If any of you is considering osteopathic studies and to become a member of this enormously rewarding profession, I would be more than happy to answer all of your questions. It helped one person I met recently to make a life changing decision. A few months ago a student from CCO came to my clinic asking for a job. He just finished the 4th year of study. I could not hire him without the osteopathic diploma. It would be at least another 3 years before he would graduate from CCO, write and present his thesis and be able to find a job as a Manual Osteopath. I encouraged him to enroll in the NAO program. He listened to my advice, graduated in August and became a member of the Osteopathic Association recognized by majority of insurance providers. We will start working together next week. He will continue his study at CCO but now with the possibility of applying his knowledge in the real clinical setting.

For any of you that would like to learn more and experience the osteopathic treatment before deciding about your future, we offer $20 discount for the first session.

Please call us at 905.660.8810 and visit the clinic website
We are located in Vaughan, Ontario at 1750 Steeles Ave. West, Unit 8.


Andrew Subieta M.Sc.,R.M.T., D.O.M.P.


  1. Andrew, I am a massage therapy (RMT) student and am going to be graduating soon and am planning to take my OSCE. I have been torn between both schools as I have heard pros and cons about each. My goal is to simply be able to practice manual osteopathy and to not have employers frown upon or make assumptions based off where I earned my education. I have spoken to a D.O. here in New-Brunswick about it and he thinks that 1 year is not enough time to fully understand the parameters of osteopathy. Any thoughts or advice?

    1. One year for a diploma program is enough to get you started as a manual osteopath. That is what most our students take. They take the DOMP program of National Academy of Osteopathy. Upon graduation they start working and then take the online Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) program of National University of Medical Sciences. We have osteopathy programs ranging from 6 months to 4 years. In the past 7 years we have graduated many manual osteopaths (half of manual osteopaths in English speaking Canadian provinces are our graduates) and so far there has not been even one case of malpractice, meaning they know what they are doing. Most our graduates quickly (some within 2 months) get fully booked. This also means their patients are happy with the treatments. So as you see one year is quite enough to start working as a manual osteopath.

  2. i wanna try this one too! how much kaya per session.구리출장마사지