Most people see a primary care physician on a regular basis – for sickness, annual physicals or treatment for a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. However, they may not know if they have seen a DO, doctor of osteopathic medicine, or an MD, doctor of medicine.
They are both medical doctors, with similar qualifications:
- Both are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication.
- They typically have four-year undergraduate degrees (with an emphasis on science courses) and complete four years of medical school.
- Both receive graduate medical education through internships and can choose a specialty area, such as pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
- They both must pass examinations to obtain state licenses to practice medicine.
What is the difference?
DOs receive extra training in medical school, learning how the health of the entire body is affected by the health of the musculoskeletal system. They also tend to pursue careers in primary care, with 65 percent choosing that field. MDs tend to focus more on using prescription medication to treat disease.
According to Dr. Phillip Snider, “As people take an active role in their health care, they are becoming more focused on additional ways to promote prevention and wellness with their doctors that’s why some doctors are choosing to become DOs.”
Whatever their medical degree, primary care physicians are the coordinators of care and are focused on keeping you healthy!