You are in good company with a lot of other people who have asked this
The short Answer is that an MD (Medical Doctor) went to a School of
Medicine, and a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) went to an Osteopathic
School of Medicine.
For a longer Answer:
From Ohio State University's School of Medicine -
"MD or DO - Is There A Difference?
A medical doctor (MD) and a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)
generally have the same educational background. Both are required to
complete an undergraduate degree -- usually with an emphasis on
science -- followed by four years of medical school, and then a
residency program. The length of this residency program varies by the
physician's specialty. All physicians must then pass state licensure
requirements and examinations.
In regard to primary care, the basic difference between these two
types of doctors is narrowing all the time. "The biggest difference is
that most DOs go into primary care", according to Bryan Beggin, DO, of
the OSU Family Practice Center at Gahanna. The philosophic difference
is that the DO tends to treat the entire individual, rather than using
a disease-specific approach to treatment."
From Cecil Adams' "Straight Dope" website:
"What's the difference between an osteopath and an MD?
The difference between a DO and an MD is more a matter of philosophy
than training, although D.O.s do receive additional training in the
Other than that, according to the Osteopathic Pre-Med FAQ (located at
http://www.Osteopathic.com ), DOs and MDs get the same schooling. DOs
can do anything an MD can do (prescribe medication, perform surgery,
leer at nurses, etc.), and are considered equal by the law. This only
applies to American DOs.
Non-North American DOs adhere more strongly to the philosophies set
down by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the founder of osteopathic
medicine (which, by the way, translates to 'bone suffering') -- they
do NOT prescribe medicines or perform surgery, and are limited to
'osteopathic manipulation,' which is similar to chiropractic."
Many DO-sponsored sites will tell you that DOs have a holistic
approach and MDs do not, that DOs will look for causes of the problem
and treat the whole person and MDs will only treat the specific
For example, according to American Running:
"Osteopathic Physicians (D.O.)
Can be licensed to practice all branches of medicine (primary care,
orthopedics, or physiatry, for example) and surgery. The difference
between the D.O. and MD lies in their philosophy, which stresses a
scientifically based, holistic approach to treatment (focusing on
anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics). In addition to using similar
adjustment methods practiced by chiropractors, osteopaths specializing
in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine practice forms of manual medicine
rarely learned by other sports medicine specialists."
In my opinion, this claimed "whole patient" distinction is pure B.S.
Many, many years ago, Osteopathic Medicine (DO) was originally
considered a "lesser" quality discipline than Allopathic Medicine
(MD). Osteopathic Medicine has worked very hard since then to be
perceived as having the same level of expertise and quality as
Allopathic Medicine, and this is the Public Relations approach they
have used to try to accomplish that.
In my extensive personal experience as a patient of both DOs and MDs,
both kinds of physicians work very hard to get a good H&P (history &
physical) background from you, so that they can better determine the
possible causes of your disease or condition, and treat that source,
not just the symptoms. All of my physicians (except for one who was
really lousy -- which had *nothing* to do with whether they were an MD
or DO), have taken great care to learn as much as possible about me
both physically and psychologically, so that they could provide me
with the best possible level of care.
In the United States these days, the quality of care you get from an
MD vs a DO is pretty comparable. My advice is that you choose a
physician (based on their specialty if you need a certain type of care
and) based on other patients' comments about the quality of care that
they feel they received from that physician.
difference between MD and DO
I hope that this information has provided you with exactly the
information that you needed!