Axioms, osteopathic culture, and a perspective from geriatric medicine

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2013 Dec;113(12):908-15. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2013.069.


Osteopathic medicine is a rapidly growing discipline in health care that has much to offer the wider biomedical community. A distinction of the osteopathic medical profession is the importance of an overall guiding philosophy. Despite the osteopathic medical profession's success, there remains concern about the profession's ability to maintain its unique identity. Among many factors that have contributed to the profession's success, certain axioms from its earliest days are pertinent to the profession's identity. Maintaining a knowledge and appreciation of osteopathic axioms can play an important role in safeguarding the profession's identity. These axioms encapsulate osteopathic philosophy and, moreover, are universally useful for patient care. As osteopathic geriatricians, the authors explore the value and meaning of these axioms for anyone who treats patients, but especially for the care of the elderly. The authors also propose a new axiom, derived from the experience of 2 of the authors: "First try to blame it on the medications."

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cultural Evolution
  • Geriatrics*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Osteopathic Medicine* / history
  • Philosophy, Medical / history
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'* / history