DO Vs MD

Differences between DOs and MDs

Introduction


In the past, there has been contention between doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) and doctors of medicine (MD) in terms of what the difference between these two degrees really means. Much of this came about due to prevailing attitudes. MDs have had the idea that they are superior to DOs for some reason.

Today, it is agreed upon by the American Medical Association (AMA) that both degrees are equivalent and the medical training is essentially indistinguishable from each other.

According to the AMA (2014) the training, practice, credentialing, licensure and reimbursement of osteopathic physicians (DOs) is virtually the same from those of allopathic physicians (legally and professionally). Allopathic physicians refers to MDs. To be specific, the definition of physician by the AMA is “an individual who has received a ‘Doctor of Medicine’ or a ‘Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine’ degree or an equivalent degree following successful completion of a prescribed course of study from a school of medicine or osteopathic medicine.” Nevertheless, there are some differences that you should be aware of.

DO vs MD definition

Chances are your general practitioner is a DO and you are not aware of it. So, lets take a look at these two different medical degrees so that you can determine which is best for you. There are two general forms of medical training known as allopathic and osteopathic.

A DO (doctor of osteopathy) is concerned about your well being (holistic practice) by treating the patient as a “whole person” to get to a diagnosis as opposed to treating the symptoms alone. DO practice believes that all parts of the body work together and influence each other. Additionally, DO practice emphasizes preventative medicine as opposed to corrective.

Graphic source : odomedicine.com

DOs have extra training that MDs don’t have on osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which is a hands-on approach to diagnosis and treatment as well as disease prevention. DOs also make use of drugs and surgery as well [3].

Allopathic medicine (MD degree) refers to a medical practice that combats disease by making use of drugs and/or surgery. The focus of allopathic medicine is diagnosis and treatment of human disease generally after the fact so it is not preventative [1].

Keep in mind that osteopathic medical schools award the DO degree and allopathic medical schools award an MD degree [2].

Osteopathic Education is on the Rise

The past twenty years has seen rapid growth in osteopathic medical education. About half of the United States’ 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine (COM) opened their doors to students. These accredited colleges deliver instruction at 41 teaching locations in 28 states. Over 20 percent of U.S. medical students are studying at osteopathic schools and today COMs educate more than 23,000 students. COMs have a long history of training primary care physicians to practice in smaller communities, rural areas and under served urban areas.

A strong background in primary care that osteopathic students receive tends to make them better physicians no matter what specialty they enter. With an educated and aging population bent on patient-orientated and preventative care, osteopathic medicine is much in demand. Once a DO is licensed, they can practice in every state in the U.S. and in more than 40 countries [4].

Today, there are close to 70,000 licensed osteopaths in practice with more than 5,000 graduating each year. New campuses and training positions are being created throughout the U.S. in response to increased demand. No doubt, osteopathic medicine will play a prominent role in our evolving health care programs. Osteopathic practices are found in a number of environments including military, family practice, obstetrics, surgery and cardiology to mention a few. Due to a holistic approach, fifty-seven percent of DOs choose family practice, general internal medicine and pediatrics.

Comparison of DO vs MD educational/training requirements

DOs

  • Require 4 year undergraduate science degree
  • Require 4 year graduate training in osteopathic medical degree (DO)
  • Post-graduate training with 1 year internship and 2-8 years of residency depending on area of specialty
  • Licensure and scope of practice: DO fully licensed to practice complete spectrum of medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states
  • A licensed DO can prescribe medications
  • DO has over 500 hours of manual medical training (holistic) (MDs do not)

MDs

  • Require 4 year undergraduate science degree
  • Require 4 year graduate medical degree (MD)
  • Post-graduate training with 1 year internship and 2-8 years of residency depending on area of specialty
  • Licensure and scope of practice: MD fully licensed to practice complete spectrum of medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states
  • A licensed MD can prescribe medications
  • MD does not have manual medical training (holistic)

Summary

If you are a patient, you might want to find out if your doctor is a DO or MD. As you can see, an MD is concerned about prescribing medications and surgery and not the “whole person”. DOs on the other hand, do all the things MDs do but bring in a holistic approach and concentrate on preventative approach. Which would you rather have?
If you are planning on becoming a medical student, you need to ask yourself whether you want to be a DO versus a MD. Make sure to do your homework and learn all the ins and outs of these two different medical degrees so you make the right decision.

Literature Cited

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Comparison_of_MD_and_DO_in_the_United_States&oldid=214367260
  2. http://gradschool.about.com/od/medicalschool/f/osteoallo.htm
  3. https://www.osteopathic.org/OSTEOPATHIC-HEALTH/about-dos/what-is-a-do/Pages/default.aspx
  4. http://www.aacom.org/resources/bookstore/cib/Documents/2014cib/2014%20CIB%20Complete%20Small.pdf

Suggested Reading

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001936.htm
  2. http://www.aacom.org/about/osteomed/Pages/History.aspx
  3. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-dos/what-is-a-do/Pages/default.aspx
  4. http://www.nrmp.org/data/chartingoutcomes2011.pdf
  5. http://www.aacom.org/data/applicantsmatriculants/Documents/2010Matriculantsummary.pdf
  6. https://www.aamc.org/download/161690/data/table17.pdf
  7. http://www.nrmp.org/data/resultsanddata2011.pdf
  8. http://www.piedmont.org/medical-care/living-better1/Your-doctor-The-difference-between-an-MD-and-DO-697.aspx

Published on by under Difference Between.
Article was last reviewed on September 11th, 2016.



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