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Learning OMM experince


Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jan 25, 2017
  1. Other Health Professions Student
Hello. Just a fellow premed hopefully a future DO student. I am a bit concerned about learning OMM in med school. Not about the content but the practical part. Do we pratice on each other ? Is it awkward? It seems like it will be a little up close and personal right? I heard some schools we have to wear sports bra and shorts. What if we have scars we want to hide? Or feel self conscious?

If you are a DO student or student to be, how do you feel about this ? What is it like?


New Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2013
  1. Medical Student
Yes, we do practice OMM on each other and sometimes that means taking your shirt off. Everyone is professional and very respectful of each other. It can be a little awkward at first, but when your in a lab with 100 other people with their shirts off, you get used to it rather fast. I have a pretty ugly scar in an area that occasionally needs to be touched during an OMM technique, and I always tell my partner something like “This doesn’t hurt or anything, so don’t be afraid to do what you need to do” to let them know it’s ok.
We also sometimes need to take shirts off for our physician skills class where we learn how to do physical exams, including listening to the heart and lungs, examining the abdomen, skin exam, etc. Keep in mind that part of being a physician (MD or DO) is getting up close and personal with your patient. Sometime during your medical career your going to have your finger up a patients butt to feel his prostate.
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You should be taught professional touch the first week. You'll see every one of your classmates with their shirts off at some point, but almost everyone in the room is self-conscious and not thinking about what you look like, because they're worried about what they look like. Your classmates will range from very heavy to extremely thin, and everything in between. Some people have had surgery in the past & have scars, some will have religious reasons why they can't show too much skin, etc.

I learned a lot in OMM & our hands on doctoring course about how to make someone feel at ease in an awkward situation, how to behave professionally, how to ask people to move or shift body parts without sounding weird ("Can you please lift your left breast so I can listen to your heart?"), how to respect people from other cultures who have to work around religious regions for not being undressed or needing a female partner, how to delicately ask about scars, tattoos, etc. Even if you don't use OMM after medical school, I think there's a lot to be gained from the hands-on aspect of the class.

It really bothered me at first to have people touching me, especially guys in class. I've been married a long time, and I tend to have a large personal space bubble anyway, so taking my shirt off in front of a guy I didn't know and letting him touch me (even on the back & completely professional) just felt so wrong at first. But then I started thinking about how our future patients might feel the same way when we're going to examine and/or treat them. They'll feel awkward & uncomfortable letting a stranger look at their bodies and touch them, and having had to experience that myself will hopefully help me put them at ease in the future.

Edited to add: if you (or anyone else) has ever had a spinal injury or back/neck surgery, you need to go see your OMM course director ASAP when you start school. There will be techniques you can't have performed on you, and if they know in advance then accommodating those needs will go a lot smoother for you.
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Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jan 25, 2017
  1. Medical Student
We did OMT on each other from day one (I mean, at first you're just finding landmarks and whatnot). It can be a little awkward, and yes sometimes you just wear a sports bra and gym shorts. They talked to everyone about finding an appropriately modest bra and what exactly to wear. Depending on the maneuver there were sometimes giggles or smirks, but in my experience everyone was professional. Also agree with the above - everyone is worrying about how they look, and probably not even noticing you.

Honestly, I found it super helpful for getting used to touching and examining strangers. Think about it - with a patient you will do a 7 or so minute history and then you need to be comfortable doing a physical exam and helping them feel comfortable with it as well. It's great practice.

Also, we did have a student who never took their shirt off for personal reasons. So, if you really had an issue with it you should be able to talk to the admin at your school and figure something out.
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Military Medicine
2+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2017
  1. Attending Physician
You will get over the awkwardness. It is a part of the doctoring lab experience as well as OMM labs. However, your professors and TAs can accommodate you for religious preferences such as having a female partner to work with with, when possible. You will be practicing on your classmates. Much like martial arts, you start with the basics and build upon your skills and comprehension from there.
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