By Dr Peter Kadile

I’ve had several new patients recently who did not know what a DO is and wondered if I would be able to prescribe medication. I have been practicing medicine for almost 20 years and sometimes take it for granted that everybody knows what a DO or osteopathic physician is. There are approximately 83,000 osteopathic physicians practicing in the United States. I would like to do my part in continuing to raise public awareness of what an osteopathic physician is.

Osteopathic Medicine was developed by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still M.D, D.O., in Missouri, more than 130 years ago. It was developed out of his frustration that traditional medicine at the time was relying too much on drugs and just treating symptoms. Osteopathic medicine focuses on the whole person, the interconnection of the body’s nerves, muscles, bones and organs, and the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

I am an osteopathic physician who holds a “D.O.” degree (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) instead of the more traditional “M.D.” degree. I frequently get asked, “What is a D.O.?” Both DOs and MDs are fully qualified physicians licensed to practice medicine, prescribe medication and perform surgery in all fifty states.

DOs and MDs are Alike in Many Ways

  • Students entering both DO and MD medical colleges typically have already completed four-year bachelor’s degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both DOs and MDs complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both DOs and MDs obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. This training lasts three to eight years and prepares DOs and MDs to practice a specialty.
  • Both DOs and MDs can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine—such as pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery, obstetrics or ophthalmology.
  • DOs and MDs must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
  • DOs and MDs both practice in accredited and licensed health care facilities.

The DO Difference

  • Although DOs can choose to practice in any specialty, osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students in primary care.
  • DOs practice a “whole person” approach to medicine and focus on preventive health care
  • DOs receive extra training on the musculoskeletal system and may practice some form of osteopathic manipulative medicine (manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, similar but different to chiropractic manipulation).

If you would like more information, check out the American Osteopathic Association’s website at www.osteopathic.org. I would also be happy to answer more questions about my particular osteopathic medical practice if you contact my office. Most people are unaware that the physician they are seeing may have a DO degree instead of an MD degree. There are a large number of osteopathic physicians practicing in the Coachella Valley.

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