Differences between osteopathic medicine and allopathic medicine
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Medical students face a choice between earning a DO degree (Doctor of Osteopathy) and an MD degree (Doctor of Medicine). Although both degrees allow graduates to practice medicine, there are some important differences between the two degrees.
Philosophical Differences Between DO and MD Degrees
The biggest difference between a DO degree and an MD degree is their treatment focus. While an MD generally treats certain areas of the body for a given illness, such as the heart or the reproductive system, a DO is more focused on treating the whole body.
A DO understand how all of the parts of the body are connected and how they work together. They often use a Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment (OMT) which involves the placing of their hands on the patient in different ways in order to provide non-invasive relieve.
Other differences between DO and MD degrees include their attitude toward alternative treatments. While those who earn an MD degree are more likely to resort to surgical or prescription treatments, those who have a DO degree are more likely to try alternative treatments, including herbal medications.
Differences Between DO and MD Degrees: Statistics
Both types of physicians earn approximately the same pay, although differences do exist within different specialty areas. Because most DO degree holders end up as family practitioners – often in rural areas – they may end up earning less than those who choose to specialize.
There is a big difference in the number of DO and MD degrees awarded and the number of institutions which provide the degrees. Only about 6% of all physicians in the United States hold a DO degree. The reason for that may be that only 23 institutions award DO degrees in comparison to more than 120 for MD degrees.
Differences Between DO and MD Degrees: Other Countries
While in the United States, the differences between DO and MD degrees may not be great, the differences in other parts of the world are. In some areas of the world, those who hold DO degrees are not considered full-fledged physicians. Elsewhere, DO degree-holders are the equivalent of American chiropractors. In New Zealand and Australia, a DO degree focuses on manual therapy only and those degree holders cannot practice other types of medicine.
Learn More About the Medical Careers
Search for Osteopathic Medical Schools – see how your MCAT scores and GPA would fare at US osteopathic medical schools.
Medical Careers Guide – information on a variety of health care professions
Physician Resources at NetDoc.com – Medical practice tools and continuing medical education
Osteopathic Origins – briefly explains what to expect as a DO degree holder
American Osteopathic Association – dedicated to providing information for individuals interested in or already holding DO degrees
American Medical Association – the largest medical professional organization for physicians