A lot of those who want to go into medicine believe that you need to chase after the coveted M.D. degree. After all, it is the degree of doctors on House, Grey’s Anatomy, and every other doctor drama. However, did you know there is another degree that will grant you the same scope of practice as a MD? Yep, it’s true and I guess I must apologize now for challenging everything you ever believed about medicine. So what exactly is a DO and why does it exist?
D.O. stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. It is one of two degrees in the US that allows someone to practice as a doctor. As a D.O., you have the same responsibilities as a MD. You can also go into any of the specialties that a MD can enter such as surgery, cardiology, neurology, etc.
The training between a MD and a DO are pretty similar. Both require four years of medical school and the passing of similar licensing tests. However, there is one key difference. According to William J. Burke, the primary difference is “the additional training that osteopathic physicians receive in regards to the musculoskeletal system. The ability to use a hands-on approach to the patients to both diagnose and treat conditions that otherwise might be missed.” This difference is due to a slightly different medical ideology. DOs believe in a more holistic view of medicine which mean they are more inclined the treat the body as a whole rather than as one part.
For those who want to go into medicine, it is definitely worth the hassle to research DO schools. Maybe you will like its philosophy and want to apply. About a fifth of medical schools in the US are DO schools.