Applied Clinical Theory and Skills 1 furthers the theoretical knowledge, clinical reasoning and patient management approaches of osteopathy students. Students investigate the pathophysiology, clinical presentations, and management of rheumatological disorders relevant to osteopathic practice. This unit expands upon pain science theory that was introduced in the undergraduate program with a focus on the neurological mechanisms of the chronic/persistent pain patient. Students will be exposed to the pharmacological management strategies of chronic pain patients and will apply an evidence informed, biopsychosocial approach to assessment and management of these patient populations. Students will have the opportunity to apply a range of tools to assist clinical decision making to a variety of musculoskeletal complaints and debate the contribution of osteopathic practice in the broader health care system including the management of patients in team-based care and third-party payment schemes.

Unit details

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Unit code:

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Justify the contribution of osteopathy in team-based patient care and third-party payment schemes;  
  2. Conceptually map the presentations and management of rheumatological conditions commonly seen in osteopathic practice;  
  3. Extrapolate the neurological mechanisms involved in patients with chronic pain and compose suitable, communication, management and monitoring strategies for these patients; and  
  4. Elucidate the mechanisms of action of pain management agents used for patients presenting to osteopaths.  


The two quizzes test fundamental knowledge of rheumatology and mechanisms in chronic pain during weeks 1 and 2. Students are then assessed on their clinical reasoning of neurological and pain mechanisms in a chosen case study. In pairs, students demonstrate clinical reasoning and communication by creating an infographic summarising an evidence-based monitoring, treatment, and management plan for a given patient scenario. Finally, students explain the previous management plan in presentation using patient-appropriate language.
Assessment type Description Grade
Test Online Test (2x30mins) 20%
Report Case Study (1000 words) 25%
Project Patient Management Infographic (Pairs) (1500 words) 30%
Presentation Oral Presentation (Pairs) (10mins) 25%

Required reading

Musculoskeletal clinical translation framework: from knowing to doing
Mitchell, T., Beales, D., Slater, H, & O'Sullivan, P. (2017)

RECOMMENDED TEXTS: Austin, P. (2017). Chronic Pain: A Resource for Effective Manual Therapy. Handspring Publishing Limited. Other readings will be made available on VU Collaborate.

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.