DOs and MDs

  • At first glance, the difference between DOs and MDs is difficult to distinguish. They are both fully licensed physicians, trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses and disorders and providing preventive care. They are the only two medical practitioners with full training who are licensed to prescribe medications and perform surgery.

    About Osteopathic Medicine

    Osteopathic physicians attend one of 29 osteopathic medical schools in the United States, which embrace preventive medicine and holistic patient care.

    Following graduation, osteopathic physicians and allopathic physicians complete internship or residency training. DOs, like MDs, may choose to practice in any medical specialty, and training typically ranges from three to six years.


    All physicians – DOs and MDs – must pass a three-part medical licensing examination to meet state requirements to practice medicine and surgery.

    Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

    Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is one of the techniques that sets osteopathic physicians apart from their allopathic peers.

    Osteopathic physicians are trained to use their hands to diagnose, treat and prevent illness and injury. Through OMT, DOs move their patients’ muscles and joints using a variety of techniques, including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance.

    OMT is used for people of all ages and can ease pain, promote healing and increase overall mobility. When appropriate, it can also complement or even replace drugs or surgery. It’s an added dimension of care that osteopathic physicians make use of to heal their patients.