What is a D.O.?
A D.O. is a medical doctor licensed by the state's medical regulatory board to practice medicine. Like M.D.s, D.O.s must graduate from an accredited 4 year medical school and pass medical board exams prior to licensure by the state medical board. In order to become board certified in a specialty, they must graduate from an accredited 3 (or more) year residency program. Although there are osteopathic residency programs located at hospitals and universities throughout the country, many D.O.s complete their residencies in an allopathic (M.D.) residency program.. D.O.s practice in fully accredited and licensed medical facilities alongside their M.D. colleagues and are found in all fields of medicine; family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, ophthalmology, neurology, cardiology, orthopedics etc.
We differ from M.D.s primarily in our philosophy of practicing medicine. We regard the human body as an integrated whole. Each system linked by our complex neurologic and musculoskeletal systems. We also recognize the body's innate ability to heal itself and stress preventive medicine, healthy diet and keeping fit. Our founder, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., D.O. pioneered the concept of "wellness" nearly 130 years ago.
In osteopathic medical school, each student is trained in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMT). With OMT, physicians use their hands to encourage the patient's body to good health. We also receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system which constitutes 2/3 of our body mass and this provides us with a better understanding of how an illness or injury in one part of the body can affect another.
Chances are you have already received care from an osteopathic physician at an ER, urgent care facility or while in the hospital and perhaps were not even aware. I hope this clears up any misconceptions you may have about our profession. I welcome any additional questions you may have.