The Feminine Touch: Women in Osteopathic Medicine – The Documentary

The creative process isn’t an easy road to travel. It could be said that tasking oneself with the job of creating something new, whether it is a material object, a process, or a new way of thinking, is saddling yourself for an uphill battle of the mind. Some projects of creation come easier than others, and some labours spiral into a labyrinth of directions, and failed attempts. It could be easier to walk downhill, but thankfully history is scattered with people who took the path less travelled, and these are the people who have inspired change in the world.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still was a progressive man. Dr. Still drew from his observations and challenged the accepted medical thought of his time, with a new philosophy to restore health establishing the profession of osteopathy. The success of Dr. Still’s treatments lead to the opening the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) in 1892 where Dr. Still welcomed women to learn, in a time when traditional medical schools rarely included female students. Dr. Still felt that women were just as capable as men, and as John Lewis described in his book “A. T. Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man”,

“He felt that Lincoln’s equality proclamation was incomplete and that the U. S. Constitution should be amended to read, ‘There shall be no disabilities on account of race, colour, sex, or previous condition of servitude.’  Women had access to very few medical colleges at the time, but his institution would be open to all without prejudice.”[1]

The first class of osteopathy at the ASO had 18 students including five women.

Last month PBS showcased a documentary highlighting women in osteopathy, based on the book “The Feminine Touch: Women in Osteopathic Medicine” by Thomas A. Quinn. This documentary is an account of women in early osteopathic medicine during Dr. Still’s time, and also features interviews with female D. O.s (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) of today. Although there are many differences in the osteopathic profession between American trained D. O.s (who are trained in medicine along with osteopathic manipulation) and Canadian trained Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (who only use osteopathic manipulation), “The Feminine Touch” makes the historical roots of osteopathy and it’s founder, accessible to all.


[1] Lewis, John.  A. T. Still: From the Dry Bone to the Living Man. Dry Bone Press, 2012. Pg. 144.

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