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What is a D.O.?

April 7, 2017

If you’re like most people, you’ve been going to physicians ever since you were born and, perhaps, were not aware if some or all of them were osteopathic physicians, also known as D.O.s. You may not even be aware that there are two types of physicians in the United States… D.O.s and M.D.s.

The fact is that both D.O.s and M.D.s are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.

DOs and MDs are Alike in Many Ways

  • Students entering both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have already completed a four-year bachelor’s degree, with an emphasis on scientific 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 obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. This training lasts three to eight years, and prepares D.O.s and M.D.s to practice a specialty.

  • Both D.O.s and M.D.s can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine, such as pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery or ophthalmology.

  • D.O.s and M.D.s must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.

  • D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in accredited and licensed health care facilities.

  • Together, D.O.s and M.D.s enhance the state of health care available in the U.S.

D.O.s, however, belong to a separate, yet equal, branch of American medical care. It is the ways that D.O.s and M.D.s are different that can bring an extra dimension to your health care.

The Osteopathic Approach

For more than a century, osteopathic physicians have built a tradition of bringing health care to where it is needed most:

  • Approximately 60% of practicing osteopathic physicians practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology.

  • Many D.O.s fill a critical need for physicians by practicing in rural and other medically underserved communities.

In addition, these modern-day pioneers practice on the cutting edge of medicine. DOs combine today’s medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patient’s concerns, with their minds to view their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and/or illness.

D.O.s practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating you for specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.

Osteopathic physicians focus on preventive health care.

D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system…your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles, and bones that makes up two-thirds of your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with an excellent understanding of how 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, D.O.s offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

Taken from http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-dos/what-is-a-do/Pages/default.aspx

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