Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine?

A doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) is a physician licensed to practice medicine, perform surgery and prescribe medication.

A D.O. is a fully-trained and licensed physician who has graduated from an osteopathic medical school. A doctor of medicine (M.D.) has graduated from an allopathic medical school.

Like M.D.s, osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school and can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine. However, osteopathic physicians receive an additional 300-500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

Like M.D.s, osteopathic physicians are licensed at the state level. Osteopathic physicians may become "board certified" (in much the same manner as M.D.s) by completing a two- to six-year residency within a specialty area and passing board certification exams.

D.O.s practice in all specialties of medicine—from emergency medicine and cardiovascular surgery to psychiatry and geriatrics. A majority of osteopathic doctors use many of the medical and surgical treatments that are used by M.D.s.

D.O.s share many of the same goals as M.D.s, but place greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system, as well as treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.