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What is a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine)?

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 DO (osteopathic physician) or an MD (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that there are two types of  physicians in the United States.

Both DOs and MDs are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.

DOs and MDs are alike in many ways:

  • Both DO and MD applicants to medical colleges have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both are required to complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both DOs and MD.s obtain graduate medical education through such programs as internships and residencies. This training typically last three to six years and prepares both 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.
  • They must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
  • DOs and MDs both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.
  • Together, they enhance the state of health care available in the United States.

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 preventative 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. The 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.
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