Osteopathic medicine is a system of medical care with a philosophy that combines the needs of patients with the current practice of medicine and surgery. Osteopathic philosophy has an emphasis on internal relationships of structure and function, with an appreciation of the body’s ability to heal itself.
Osteopathic physicians [D.O.s] attend unique medical schools; they receive the traditional four year comprehensive medical education with an additional emphasis on disease prevention and treatment of the total person, rather than their disease alone — because of their total-person philosophy, many osteopathic physicians specialize in primary care fields such as family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and emergency medicine.
However, it’s not just their philosophy that sets osteopathic physicians apart from their allopathic (M.D.) colleagues. D.O.s are also specially trained in manual medicine for treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. With this training emphasis, some osteopathic physicians specialize in rehabilitation and sports-medicine — indeed, you’ll find many D.O.s as pro-sports and college team physicians.
How Does an M.D. Differ from a D.O.?
An M.D. is a physician trained at a standard four year medical school. D.O.s receive the same four year medical school education but with the osteopathic philosophies tied into the basic principles of medicine. D.O.s also receive hundreds of hours of additional training in manipulative medicine techniques and diagnosis. Upon graduation from medical school, D.O.s continue with residency training in any of the medical specialties, from family medicine to neurosurgery.