Can a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) practice medical missions internationally? Or only a MD? Is there much room for medical missions as an osteopathic physician?


Over half of our alumni medical missionaries are DOs and they serve in a multitude of countries. There are some nations that incorrectly categorize a DO as a chiropractor and so those do not work for a DO If you have a specific country in mind, do a web search for that. Here is a link that has some information though it may not be up to date:

List of countries where US-trained osteopaths are recognized.

Answer from John McVay with In His Image Medical Missions.

“Christian Academy of African Physicians Board Member”

Acceptance of the DO degree varies widely in African countries and seems dependent on the degree to which the Medical Licensing Board understands the equivalency of training to MDs and the now joint accreditation of DO and MD schools by the same body.

In Kenya, prior acceptance of DOs was threatened for two years (2016-2018) on the grounds that the DO degree wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the medical licensing body, Medial Practitioners and Dentists Board. But recognition was eventually restored with patient diplomacy and letters from the US Federation of State Licensing Boards and AOA.

If your country of interest is not yet granting unrestricted practice for a DO, the AOA desires to engage with your assistance and local “champions” to make a way forward.
Answer from Bruce, who has served with AIM in Kenya for 27 years.

“Yes, in certain countries but not all.”

DOs are accepted to serve internationally, but only in certain countries. Most countries do not understand the distinction, so many refuse to accept them. However, some countries will still accept them, although they may not grant them the same status as they might in the US, but medically they can practice almost the same. Countries that are most likely to take DOs tend to be those with less access to healthcare. Countries that accept Clinical Officers and Physician Assistants are likely to consider DOs. South Sudan is one such country. 

Here is a link to a list from 2006 which does list countries and gives a helpful explanation of why sometimes licensure is denied.
Answer from Andrea, who has served with SIM in Africa and the USA for 9 years.
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