difference between physician MD and DO license/practice??

  1. What are the major differences in a MD and OD? TiredMD out there?
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   TazziRN
    You mean DO? Osteopath? I believe they lean more toward holistic medicine, but I'm not sure.
  4. by   newohiorn
    I also assume you mean DO. I believe OD are doctors of optometry--entirely different of course.

    From www.osteopathic.org

    D.O.s and M.D.s are alike in many ways:
    • Applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific 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 obtain graduate medical education through such programs as internships and residencies. This training typically lasts three to six years and prepares D.O.s and M.D.s to practice a specialty.
    • Both D.O.s and M.D.s can choose to practice in any specialty area of medicine-such as pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
    • D.O.s and M.D.s must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
    • D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.
    • 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 medical 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 health care.
    • 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 your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.
    • Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage your body's natural tendency toward good health. By combining all other available medical options with OMT, D.O.s offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.
  5. by   TiredMD
    I also think you probably mean "DO" rather than "OD", but I'll give a brief summary of what I know about the degrees.

    OD - "Optometry Doctor" (I believe). Limited to writing eyeglass prescriptions and able to prescribe some eye medications for common conditions like glaucoma. It is my understanding that Optometrists are not allowed to do surgery in most states, though I have heard that in some places (New Mexico?) this may be changing.

    Sorry if this part is long:

    DO - "Doctor of Osteopathy". There's actually a long history to this field, dating back to the 1800s. My understanding is that originally it was intended to be more scientific than MDs, who at that time had a lot of quacks in the field. With the increasing standardization of medical education, MDs became the dominant field, and DOs tended to be more "holistic", focusing on the use of manipulation (think chiropractor techniques, but more varied and using more of the body than just the spine).

    A generation or two ago, MDs looked down on DOs, believing that they received a substandard education and were not as grounded in science as MDs. There may have been some truth to this back then. However, over the last few decades, DO schools have adopted a curriculum that is essentially identical to MD schools (with the caveat that they continue to teach "manipulation" techniques to treat a variety of conditions). Today, there is essentially no difference between MDs and DOs. Both are considered fully-licensed physicians, and can become trained in any specialty. There are MDs and DOs in every field from Internal Medicine to Neurosurgery.

    That being said, you will still find pockets of prejudice in both the DO and MD community. Some DOs claim that they are more "patient-oriented" and "holistic" than MDs. Some MDs argue that, because the average academic qualifications of students who get into DO school are lower than MD students, they are essentially "MD-rejects".

    Personally (I'm an MD), I have worked with and trained under both MDs and DOs, and I don't see any fundamental differences, other than the letters on their lab coats.
  6. by   Multicollinearity
    I worked in an exclusively Osteopathic (D.O.) hospital years ago, and then later at a typical community hospital with mostly M.D. attendings. This is anecdotal, but I saw less arrogant behavior from the D.O.s. Or perhaps the D.O. hospital had a kinder, sweeter atmosphere for other reasons? Who knows.

    At this point, I really don't think there is hardly any difference between M.D.s and D.O.s, except that D.O.'s practice in primary care more.
  7. by   RNAnnjeh
    I agree. DO's are very holistic. When I lived in FL, my family doc was a DO. She was amazing. She always wanted to talk in big-picture terms, trying to sort out all of the potential things that could be contributing to my health, not just lab tests and xrays. I also worked with a DO in a rehab facility. He provided wonderful care to his patients, and again, always looked at the whole picture. Too bad we don't have DOs in Canada.....
  8. by   banditrn
    I doubt there's much of a difference anymore. One of the cardiologists I used to work with was a DO, and my orthopedic surgeon is a DO.

    And, BTW, I used to work with my DO surgeon, and had a fantastic relationship with him - but many people thought he was arrogant. It was because they didn't really get to know him.
    Last edit by banditrn on Nov 28, '07

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