Difference between a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and an MD

Monday, 22 May, 2017
osteopathic medicine

Have you recently heard the term "Osteopathic Medicine?" Patients at our Generations Family Practice office may have noticed the initials behind our doctor’s names and wondered why they are different. Doctor Justin Glodowski is a DO. Doctors Melanie Mintzer, Chad Cox and Christine Macomber are MDs.

Right now, most doctors in the U.S. are MDs, but the number of DOs is growing, which means you may start to see those initials more often. So what’s the difference and does it matter to you?

MD stands for Medical Doctor. DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Both are licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Both take the MCAT and follow the same undergraduate path.
Both also attend four years of medical school, complete a residency, and must meet the same requirements to practice medicine.

The difference is in the philosophy of care. MDs are an allopathic doctor, which is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of specific human diseases and illnesses.

DOs are an osteopathic doctor, which means they approach care holistically. According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), DOs consider a patient’s environment, nutrition, and body system as a whole when diagnosing and treating medical conditions. DOs receive additional musculoskeletal training (OMT) often used to treat muscle pain that can help patients with conditions such as asthma, sinus disorders, and migraines, according to the AOA.

Should I Choose a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or a Medical Doctor (MD)? 

osteopathic medicine

For patients, there isn’t much difference in the treatment you receive from a DO versus an MD. You can be comfortable with both. Both are physicians and will use the same modern treatments. Both will prescribe medications when needed and consider your history and health when selecting treatments and making a diagnosis. Both physicians base recommendations on scientifically-proven conclusions.

However, medical care is a personal choice, and you may prefer one philosophy over another. If you suffer from chronic pain or a musculoskeletal condition such as fibromyalgia, you might consider a DO, whose musculoskeletal training may be helpful.

The initials don’t matter as much as choosing a doctor with whom you feel comfortable discussing all aspects of your health, body, and wellness. After all, communication is the most important part of the doctor-patient relationship.

Contact us if you’re looking for a doctor’s practice that can take care of you and your family’s needs.