Are you curious about the differences between MD and DO? You may have noticed that some doctors have MD or DO after their names. What does this mean, and does it matter? Let's discuss the differences and help you choose which path is right for you.
MD stands for Doctor of Medicine, and DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Both are licensed and qualified to practice medicine, prescribe medication, and perform surgery. However, they vary from each other in that their philosophy, training, and approach to patient care have some differences.
MD doctors follow the allopathic model, where doctors focus on diagnosing and treating disease through methods such as drugs and surgery. MD doctors also tend to specialize in different areas of medicine (i.e. cardiology neurology, oncology, etc.)
DO doctors follow the osteopathic model, which uses a more holistic approach when treating diseases. As such, DO doctors tend to take a more encompassing and preventive approach when treating patients. For example, for a patient experiencing depression, a DO doctor may refer them to a nutritionist if they don't have sufficient microbiota, which has been linked to mental well-being. In addition to their training, OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine) courses are offered, teaching how to apply pressure to the muscles, bones, and joints to improve health. This could be especially useful for patients who have issues that involve the musculoskeletal and cranial systems.
Both MD and DO doctors have to take board exams to become licensed. While both attend four years of medical school, MD doctors take the USMLE (U.S. Medical Licensing Exam) whereas DO doctors have to take COMLEX and USMLE around the same time. However, DO students are not required to pass the USMLE for ACGME-accredited programs.
In the end, there is not much difference when choosing and interacting with an MD or DO doctor as a patient. Although they may approach health issues differently (allopathic vs. osteopathic model), both can practice medicine, prescribe medication, and perform surgery. It is important to choose one that aligns with your values and beliefs.
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