A day in the life of an osteopath: Danny Orchard

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an osteopath is like? We asked Danny Orchard, osteopath, course tutor and lecturer at the UCO to describe a typical day.

After reading Human Biology at Leeds and then obtaining an MSc in Pain Science from King's College London, Danny has been a lecturer on pain in the international circuit. He currently lectures in pain science and writes the pain curriculum for the UCO, having previously taught both neuromusculoskeletal (NMS) and Pathophysiology. His most recent venture is a new start-up charity, the Centre for Osteopathic Research and Excellence (CORE), aimed at providing affordable osteopathy to the community, mentoring for new graduates and researching non-pharmaceutical treatments for chronic pain.

What made you decide to become an osteopath?

I had a keen interest in anatomy and how the body works, and I thought about studying medicine for some time but didn’t really fancy the general feel of hospitals. Then I learnt about osteopathy and how we had the chance to heal people with just our hands, so I decided to study it at the BSO (as the UCO was known before). 

You are the founder of Core Clapton. Can you tell us more about it?

When I graduated in 2005, first I worked in various clinics and then I set up my own practice in a GP surgery. For about five years I was trying to get the surgery to subsidise osteopathic treatments for some of their patients, but I was always told there’s not enough evidence for osteopathy. At the same time, I was lucky enough to get a job with Tim Oxbrow, who used to teach at the BSO, where I had an amazing mentoring experience at his clinic in a large multi-clinician practice in Suffolk. I felt like I was one of the lucky ones, and that a lot of my contemporaries were having to go into private practice with limited support, and therefore they were perhaps less able to deal with complex patients and more inclined to refer patients unnecessarily. It also felt like osteopathy was a bit of a middle-class therapy, so to speak, that a lot of people couldn’t afford, and I would often see patients coming in week after week to see the GPs, and not getting any better, and still they couldn’t refer to me because of the lack of evidence.

So I was thinking how could I solve this issue around the lack of research, not enough mentoring, and also the affordability aspect. The three kind of came together in a neat triangle: if we could provide expert mentoring on a voluntary basis, then the graduate osteopaths would help us reduce the cost of treatments in exchange for high-quality mentoring, and we would be able to offer a low-cost clinic, get to treat a lot of patients and then use this to do more research. So as a result, the Centre for Osteopathic Research and Excellence (CORE) was born in 2017. As we are based in Clapton in east London, we are known as Core Clapton.

What does a typical day for you look like?

Normally, I start the day with checking my emails, work out what I need to spend most of my time on, I make sure the clinic runs smoothly, and next I turn to mentoring my graduates. I do half a day of discussions, tutorials, supervising clinical practice. Then when I find a quiet time during the day, I look at my lecture planning for the UCO. I also have to make sure that my other duties are taken care of – for example for the iO.

You were recently elected Board Member to the Institute of Osteopathy Council. What does this mean for you?

As elected Board Members, it’s our role to make sure that everything is run as well as it can, and any major decisions are done so for the best interest of the profession. I work closely with the iO team to drive osteopathy forward and to increase the awareness of osteopathy. These are the things I’ve been doing at Core Clapton too: trying to reach out to GPs, trying to break down the barriers, and generally promoting osteopathy to the local community. Being able to do this as part of the iO is just the next step in what I’m trying to achieve.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like the diversity of my job and the different areas I can cover within it. I’ve been working at Goldman Sachs for the last five years as their in-house osteopath. That was really rewarding, working in a multi-disciplinary clinic but the patients were a similar type there, you know… pretty healthy, working age etc. Basically, not the most challenging of cases.

But I’ve been seeing a wide range of complex patients in our low-cost clinic now. The most rewarding thing about Core Clapton is that a lot of people who come to us are struggling and have multiple problems, and quite often they are left to deal with their problems alone and with prescription medicine. Being able to treat these patients and get them back to their day-to-day lives is probably the most rewarding thing about my job.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

As Core Clapton is still a relatively new enterprise, having to juggle our postgraduate mentoring course and trying to make sure that associates have the best possible experience with us, while also running the centre is probably my biggest challenge at the moment.

Do you have any advice for future students who are thinking of studying osteopathy at the UCO?

I think all the educational institutes have something unique to offer, but the UCO has a great heritage, and the course material has been put together and fine-tuned over decades. At the UCO we are quite advanced in our thinking, using the biopsychosocial model, and pain science which is what I teach here. It’s good to see that the other colleges are now starting to integrate this into their curriculum as well. Having a large research team and the connections we have makes it a great place for study.

Finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

I do yoga and mindfulness to try to de-stress. I also like running – due to do a half marathon soon! And I like climbing as well. Nowadays I go to the indoor climbing centre, the Castle in north London, but I used to go to the Alps every year for some proper climbing outdoors.

If you're considering a career as an osteopath and want to find out more, come along to one of our Open Days or give us a call on +44 (0)20 7089 5316.

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