What is a D.O.? Or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine?
If you are like most people, you have been going to a doctor since you were born, and perhaps were not aware whether you were seeing a D.O. or an M.D. (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that these are the only two types of complete physicians in the United States.
The fact is, both D.O.’s and M.D.’s are fully licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medications. They are both licensed by state and specialty boards to perform surgery and prescribe medication. Is there any difference between these two types of physicians? Yes. And no.
D.O.’s and M.D.’s are alike in Many Ways
- Applicants to both D.O. and M.D. colleges typically have a four-year undergraduate degree with an emphasis on science courses.
- Both D.O.’s and M.D.’s complete four years of basic medical education.
- After medical school, both D.O.’s and M.D.’s can choose to practice in a specialty area of medicine such as psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics. They both complete a residency program, which takes typically three to six years of additional training.
- Both D.O.’s and M.D.’s must pass comparable state licensing examinations.
- D.O.’s and M.D.’s both practice in fully accredited and licensed hospitals and medical centers.
- D.O.’s comprise a separate, yet equal branch of American medical care. Together D.O.’s and M.D.’s enhance the state of health care available in America.
D.O.’s Bring Something Extra to Medicine
- Osteopathic schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
- D.O.’s 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 healthcare.
- D.O.’s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of its body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect another. It gives D.O.’s a therapeutic and diagnostic advantage over those who do not receive additional specialized training.
- Osteopathic manipulative training (OMT) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. OMT allows physicians to use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health. By combining all other medical procedures with OMT, D.O.s offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.
You are more than just the sum of your body parts. That’s why doctors of osteopathic medicine, D.O.’s, practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating specific symptoms, osteopathic physicians concentrate on treating you as a whole.
Osteopathic physicians understand how all the systems in the body are interconnected and how each one affects the others. They focus special attention on the musculoskeletal system, which reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems.
This system of bones and muscles make up about two-thirds of the body’s mass, and a routine part of the osteopathic patient examination is a careful evaluation of these important structures. D.O.’s know that the body’s structure plays a critical role in its ability to function. They can use their eyes and hands to identify structural problems and to support the body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing.
Osteopathic physicians also use their ears to listen to you and your health concerns. Doctors of osteopathic medicine help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t just fight illness, but help prevent it too. Millions of Americans prefer this concerned and compassionate care, and have made D.O.’s their doctor’s life.