The DO Difference
 
If you're like most people, you've been going to a physician ever since you were born and perhaps were not aware whether you were seeing a D.O. (osteopathic physician) or an M.D. (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that there are two types of complete physicians in the United States.The fact is that both DOs and MDs are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.  Is there a difference between these two kinds of physicians? Yes and no...
 
DOs and MDs are alike in many ways:
  • Applicants to both DO and MD medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both DOs and MDs complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both DOs and MDs obtain graduate medical education through such programs as internships and residencies. This training typically lasts three to six years and prepares DOs and MDs to practice a specialty.
  • Both DOs and MDs can choose to practice in any specialty area of medicine such as pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
  • DOs and MDs must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
  • DOs and MDs both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.
  • Together, DOs and MDs enhance the state of health care available in America.
  • Howevver, DOs belong to a separate yet equal branch of American medical care. It is the ways that DOs and MDs are different that can bring an extra dimension to your family's health care.
 
DOs bring something extra to medicine:
  • Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
  • DOs practice a "whole person" approach to medicine.  Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.
  • Osteopathic physicians focus on preventive health care.
  • DOs receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system-your body's interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body mass.  This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.
  • Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage your body's natural tendency toward good health. By combining all other available medical options with OMT, DOs offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

 

 

Developed 130 years ago by physician A.T. Still, osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest growing healthcare professions in the U.S. and brings a unique philosophy to traditional medicine. With a strong emphasis on the inter-relationship of the body's nerves, muscles, bones and organs, doctors of osteopathic medicine, or D.O.s, apply the philosophy of treating the whole person to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease and injury.