If you’re like most people, you’ve been going to a physician ever since you were born and perhaps were not aware whether you were seeing a D.O. (osteopathic physician) or anM.D. (allopathic physician). You may not even be aware that there are two types of complete physicians in the United States. The fact is that both D.O.s and M.D.s are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. Is there any difference between these two kinds of physicians? Yes. And no.
Together, D.O.s and M.D.s enhance the state of health care available in America. D.O.s, however, belong to a separate yet equal branch of American medical care. It is the ways that D.O.s and M.D.s are different that can bring an extra dimension to your family’s health care.
• Applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
• Osteopathic medical education places a strong emphasis on primary medical care. Osteopathic physicians are trained to be complete physicians first, then as specialists if they choose.• Osteopathic Diagnosis Osteopathic physicians receive specialized training about the musculoskeletal system. This helps them to better understand the ways an injury or illness can affect different regions of the body allowing a “holistic” approach to medical care.
• Every year over 100 million physician visits are made to a D.O.
• D.O.s account for 5.5% of all U.S. physicians and over 15% of all military physicians with over 60,000 D.O.’s in the United States.
• 65% of all D.O.s practice primary care, many in rural communities.
• There are currently 25 schools of osteopathic medicine in the United States with enrollment of over 13,400 and over 2,700 students graduating each year.
Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., D.O. founded the osteopathic medical profession in 1874. Dr. Still was dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th century medicine. He believed that many of the medications of his day were useless or even harmful. Dr. Still was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health so that he could better understand the process of disease. In response, Dr. Still developed a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. That philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. Dr. Still identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body’s ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly and keeping fit.
Dr. Still successfully created a system of health care which emphasizes proper anatomic relationships as well as the spiritual and psychological components to health. In today’s terms, D.O.’s evaluate each patient’s personal health risks-such as smoking, high blood pressure, excessive cholesterol levels, stress and other lifestyle factors. In coordination with prescribing appropriate medical treatment, osteopathic physicians act as teachers to help patients take more responsibility for their well-being and to change unhealthy patterns. Just as Dr. Still pioneered osteopathic medicine in 1874, today’s osteopathic physicians serve as modern-day medical pioneers.