All osteopaths in the UK are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is against the law for anyone to call themselves an osteopath unless they are registered with the GOsC, which sets and promotes high standards of competency, conduct and safety.
All osteopaths practising in the UK have completed rigorous training. Students of osteopathy follow a four or five-year degree course, during which they study anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, nutrition and biomechanics. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine. In addition they undergo a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical training. Qualification generally takes the form of a bachelor's degree in osteopathy - a BSc (Hons), BOst or BOstMed - or a masters degree in osteopathy (MOst).
The standards of competence expected from an osteopath in their practice are outlined in the document Standard 2000 - Standard of Proficiency.
Osteopaths must also comply with a code of ethics, the osteopathic Code of Practice.
GOsC sets standards of osteopathic education, and require qualified osteopaths to update their training throughout their working lives, a process known as Continuing Professional Development.
GOsC are currently developing a scheme for revalidating our registrants, as all healthcare regulators are required to do by the Government. Revalidation is the process by which osteopaths will have to demonstrate that they are up to date and fit to practise, and meet the relevant professional standards.
As well as completing the necessary training, osteopaths must also prove themselves to be in good health and of good character, and have professional indemnity insurance cover.