What is a DO?

Source: American Osteopathic Association (AOA)

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

What is osteopathic medicine? A distinct branch of medicine in the U.S., osteopathic medicine emphasizes the interrelated unity of all systems in the body, each working with the other to heal in times of illness.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed physicians who practice their unique whole-person approach in every medical specialty. DOs look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors impact your wellbeing, and complete extensive postgraduate and clinical training before becoming fully licensed physicians.

DOs practice medicine according to the latest science and technology, but also consider options to complement pharmaceuticals and surgery. They complete additional training in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, a hands-on tool used to help diagnose, treat and prevent injury and illness.

Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing health care professions in the country, with one out of every four medical students enrolled in an osteopathic medical school. Over the past decade, the profession has experienced a 68% increase in the total number of DOs. If this trend continues, DOs are projected to represent more than 20% of all practicing physicians by the year 2030.

The profession has a long history of providing care where patients lack doctors. Following this trend, more than 50% of active DOs practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.

By combining all other appropriate medical options with OMT and a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating a patient, DOs offer the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

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.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine bring something unique to the practice of medicine by looking beyond your symptoms, truly listening, and gaining an understanding of what your life is really like. Learn more about the DO Difference at http://doctorsthatdo.org/difference


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