Training

What do Osteopaths do?

Osteopaths are health care professionals.  Osteopathy is the art and science of using their expertise in case history taking and their hands-on skills to make a diagnosis and then treat patients.   Treatment approaches are varied and are aimed at reducing pain and improving movement.  It is a profession regulated by the General Osteopathic Council.  It can give tremendous satisfaction to help people to feel better with treatment, and the contact with a wide range of members of the public makes osteopathy an interesting, challenging and rewarding job.

Where do Osteopaths work?

Osteopaths work in a variety of settings.  There are a few in post within the NHS but mostly osteopaths work in private settings.  This can be in private health clinics, large companies, sports clubs, doctors’ surgeries or in a clinic set up at home.  Osteopaths can be found working by themselves (sole practitioners) or as part of a practice.  The practice may be made up of just osteopaths or a variety of healthcare professionals.

How long does it take to become an osteopath?

The College of Osteopaths runs a unique fully part-time osteopathy degree programme which lasts 5 years to achieve the BOst and 5.5 years to achieve the MOst qualifications.  The degree is validated by Staffordshire University.

How part-time is a part-time degree programme?

At The College of Osteopaths there are 18 teaching weekends a year.  These take place over 2 semesters at our two campuses (Staffordshire and Hendon).  In addition to this there are staggered clinic hours which need to be completed at our three teaching clinics.  Many of our students join us with the aim of changing career and have full-time employment.  Our course and our teaching clinic hours are structured in such a way as to allow someone in such a position to achieve their dream of becoming an osteopath.  Our long history of part-time course provision means we understand the unique demands of combining work, family and studying commitments.

Would I get to practise on real patients while I’m learning?

As well as the weekend lectures there is a total of 1200 supervised hours at our teaching clinics.  You would start observing clinical treatment right from Year One.  If you would like to find out about the learning environment in the teaching clinic, and meet some of our students and tutors, then you can book yourself in for some treatment.  You don’t have to be in pain or injured to make an appointment.  Just ask for an osteopathic assessment, and whilst you are there, tell the tutor that you are interested in osteopathy as a career.  It’s a great way to experience osteopathy both as a patient and as a potential student.  To make an appointment click here to find the clinic nearest to you.

Here are some features of The College of Osteopaths’ programme that may be important to you when making your choice.

If you answer yes to most of these questions come to an open day and find out more.

  1. Does the programme have GOsC ‘RQ’ approval in place so that I can register and practise as an osteopath when I qualify?
  2. Is the programme completely part-time from beginning to end, so that I can maintain my job and other commitments until I complete the degree?
  3. Is there a feeder course available to me if I need some help in getting ready to study for a degree?
  4. Does the programme get me involved in clinic-based learning right from the start of Year 1?
  5. Does the programme offer me the flexibility to build up my clinic hours in three different teaching clinics, in different geographic locations?
  6. Does the programme provide me with an interim qualification after just one year, plus insurance cover, so that I can start to build up my own practice and earn some income?
  7. Is there an opportunity to transfer between two virtually identical programmes in the north and south of the country in case I have to move, so that I can continue my studies on the same curriculum?
  8. Does the programme have a business skills strand integrated throughout the programme from start to finish, to equip me to set up a successful practice as soon as I qualify?
  9. Is the programme run by a highly efficient independent not-for-profit institution with a commitment to keep student fees to a minimum?
  10. Are the staff friendly, supportive, accessible and professional – from that very first point of contact right through to graduation?

The College of Osteopaths Master of Osteopathy (MOst) programme

Making your mind up and preparing thoroughly:

  • Research all the options and make sure you know all about the programme you have selected.  Two essential websites are www.collegeofosteopaths.ac.uk and www.osteopathy.org.uk
  • Ask the Programme Administrators for a copy of the reading list and practise ordering a couple of the texts from your local library. Use an anatomy book or CD ROM to start to learn (or revise, if you have studied anatomy before) a muscle a day: what the muscle does and which bones it is attached to.
  • Get organised with a PC at home, and establish a quiet area for you to study. Become confident with e-mail, browsing the internet, downloading documents, and basic word processing.
  • Make contact with a few local osteopaths (you will find college alumni here) and book yourself in for some treatment. Reflect on the different approaches, and whether you feel the practitioner role is really the one for you – and why.   Bear in mind that some osteopaths may be willing to act as a mentor for student osteopaths
  • Book in to one of the College’s Teaching Clinics to find out where they are, and how learning takes place there. The best way to get an insight is to book in as a patient and have a session of treatment: telephone 01782 660000 (Staffordshire), 020 8905 1395 (Borehamwood), 020 7723 6478 (London)
  • Make a financial plan that shows how you will manage the course fees over the 5 years of the programme, taking account of the possible need to reduce your hours (and income) if you currently have a full-time job. Remember that the requirement to build up clinic hours increases as the programme progresses. Research tuition fee loans or career development loans with a range of banks.
  • If you have family commitments, discuss your plans and assess whether your network of support is sufficiently extensive and robust to see you through the programme. Make contingency arrangements for childcare or other responsibilities so that you have a number of options if plan ‘A’ goes awry.   Enter the dates of lecture weekends in your diary, and take the opportunity now to visit friends and relations or have some relaxing weekends away, because once the programme starts, your free time will become scarcer!
  • If you have not already done so, start to think about ways in which you can take care of your own health. Good levels of energy and concentration, general resilience and a positive outlook will all help to see you through the next few years of study and self-development. Nutrition, exercise, stress management techniques, friends and sleep all have an important part to play.
  • Visit the University campus at one of the Open Days, to get familiar with the environment and the facilities for students. Check out the social, sporting and cultural activities as well as the learning resources! Test out the journey time from home to the campus so that you are clear about the length of your day for teaching weekends
  • If you have been out of studies for some time, consider signing up at a local college for an ‘Access to Higher Education’ course, the College own Science Foundation Course or even the Step-Up to HE programme that Staffordshire University runs.
  • Take a look at a couple of professional journals to acquaint yourself with current issues for osteopaths.
  • Check out the job vacancies and start to think about business prospects in the area where you plan to settle once qualified. There may be a large osteopathic clinic already established, and there could be an opening for an associate in a few years’ time.

If you would like to discuss any of the points above or the programme, please contact us: Staffordshire programme (01782 294596 or osteopathy@staffs.ac.uk) or  for the London programme: (020 8905 1937 or admin@collegeofosteopaths.ac.uk).

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