Since getting into an osteopathic medical school, I've gotten more questions about whether I'll be obtaining an M.D. degree. I respond by saying "No, I'm going be getting a D.O. degree - Doctor of Osteopathy". They then proceed to inquire "So do you deal with bones? Is that like a chiropractor? Or no wait - like an orthopedic?" Back then, all I really knew was that osteopathic physicians look at the person as a whole - Mind, Body, and Spirit. Other than that, I wasn't exactly sure how to explain it - I mean, I have yet to learn all about being a D.O.
So - what exactly is a D.O. and how do they differ from M.D.'s?
- D.O.'s are trained to listen and take in all the information given by their patients and holistically treat them, taking into consideration Mind, Body, and Spirit.
- D.O.'s are additionally trained in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (aka: OMT) where we can use our hands to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal illnesses or injuries, to promote self-healing. (This can be used to treat in addition to pharmaceuticals and/or surgery).
- D.O.'s are trained to view all systems of the body as interrelated. One affected system means that another system may be compromised. (Basically: Structure is to Function, as Function is to Structure).
- For additional information, head to www.doctorsthatdo.org
Now, what about M.D.s? Often considered as our counterparts, allopathic physicians generally treat the disease with appropriate pharmaceutical and surgery. Now - I say generally because allopaths focus more on treating symptoms to rid the body of disease. BUT nowadays, I believe that more allopaths are seeing the importance and incorporating preventive medicine, and seeing the patient as a whole - which is awesome! So really, instead of considering them as our counterparts, I believe that they are our allies in providing healthcare!
At the end of the day, the goal of the both D.O.s and M.D.s are to get the patient well and improve quality of life.
- Both are able to train in the same specialties, and undergo residencies (whether it's surgery, neurology, cardiology, family medicine, etc.)
- Both are generally licensed by the same licensing boards.
- Both work together in the same settings.
So there you have it, osteopathic physicians are not chiropractors or orthopedics (although they can specialize in orthopedic surgery ;) ).