Difference Between DO and MD

A medical doctor (allopathic physician) (M.D.) and a doctor of osteopathic
medicine( D.O.) generally have the same educational background and length of
study. Both are required to complete an undergraduate degree - usually with an
emphasis on biological or chemical science - followed by four years of medical school, and then a residency program. A residency program is done in the area of specialty chosen by the physician such as surgery, gynecology, or psychiatry. The length of this residency program varies by the physician's specialty, but typically is two to six years. All physicians must then pass state licensure requirements and examinations.

In regard to primary care physicians, the basic difference between these two types of doctors is becoming narrower all the time. The philosophical differences of the two types are becoming somewhat non-existent and, in recent years, the training each receives has begun to cross the traditional lines of "conventional" and "osteopathic" medicine.

Most osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to become primary care physicians. The philosophical difference is that the DO is trained to evaluate the body through taking histories, focusing not only on the health problem or concern but lifestyle issues (such as the impacts of stress or posture on a condition) as well. DO's may also focus on the neuro-muschuloskeletal system and may perform manipulations to treat a wide array of health concerns. Following this thought process, DO's receive training that focuses on developing an understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect another. For example, in case of patient experiencing migraine headaches, a DO might question underlying issues such as family problems, stress, etc., where an MD might look for physical symptoms first before pursuing the other issues.

North Arkansas Regional Medical Center's staff of physicians includes both DO's and MD's. To determine what kind of physician is best for you and your family, schedule a "get acquainted" appointment. The particular qualities you might look for differs from individual to individual. We would recommend that you choose your physician based on your needs, physical and emotional, rather than based only on their "DO" or "MD" credentials.


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