M.D.s and D.O.s

Health Care Providers: M.D.s and D.O.s

The doctor that you see in your doctor's office or in the hospital has M.D. or D.O. following his or her name. Both are fully licensed doctors, but they hold different degrees.

Some doctors earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Other doctors hold a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

What do these different degrees mean in terms of the health care that you receive?

In Common

Both types of physicians have attended accredited medical schools. M.D.s attend allopathic medical school, and D.O.s attend osteopathic medical school.

After medical school, both types of doctors must complete a residency program for at least three years and sometimes as long as seven years. During residency, doctors focus on their chosen specialty, such as family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine or surgery.

Before they can treat patients, prescribe medications, perform surgery or deliver babies, both M.D.s and D.O.s must pass a state licensing exam. In addition, both can become board certified in a specialty area, such as neurology or oncology.

Differences

In medical school to become a D.O., students are taught to view the patient as a whole in order to promote overall health and wellness. These students receive instruction on the musculoskeletal system to help them better understand how all of the body’s systems work together and to help them provide preventative health care.

Specialized training is given to show D.O. students how to perform osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). With this treatment, a D.O. uses hands-on movements — stretching, pressure and resistance — to help resolve a patient’s health issue, such as muscle pain.

For M.D. students, their medical school curriculum is approached in two ways:
 

  • Learning about the different systems of the body, when they are healthy and unhealthy, one at a time before moving to the next
  • Learning about the body through a problem approach of specific diseases or health and wellness issues

M.D.s and D.O.s also take different licensing exams in order to receive their medical license.

At Floyd

At Floyd, you will see both M.D.s and D.O.s. You will find these physicians in all areas, including primary and urgent care offices, in the Emergency Care Center (ECC), in surgery and as hospitalists seeing patients on hospital floors.

Floyd also accepts graduates with both M.D. and D.O. degrees into its Family Medicine Residency program.

Conclusion

The majority of doctors who practice in the United States are M.D.s. However, the number of practicing D.O.s is expected to grow.

The training your doctor has received -- whether an M.D. or a D.O. -- should enable him/her to manage or treat your healt​h care issue no matter what initials follow the name.

Find a Primary Care Physician near you
 

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