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Jul 10, 2006
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Hello everyone. My college (before I graduated) invited a DO to present and the whole-patient approach to medicine really appealed to me. I'm currently working in Integrative Medicine doing research at a cancer hospital and it has only further added fuel to the fire towards the DO. it's about treating the whole patient, not just the disease.

That being said I want to be a surgeon. That may all change in med school but for now I want to be a surgeon.

The DOs I have approached were put off by that and I can understand-- surgery is invasive and often treats the disease completely contrasted to the DO methodology. But the DOs I've talked won't answer my questions and it just makes me very frustrated and headed back towards applying to MDs.

I know that a surgical DO is possible because I learned about it at the presentation. Now I just want to know more. I would appreciate anyone who would look past the fact that I am a walking oxymoron and give me some insight.

Are surgical DOs prohibited or discouraged from specializing in a surgical field? Isn't it possible to want to try to treat the patient as best non-surgically before choosing surgery as the last resort? Can't I want to be responsible for even the surgical portion of a patient's health care? Arguably post-surgical patients are more in need of the whole-patient-body approach. Will I be discriminated against in surgical programs because I am a DO and not an MD?

Thanks in advance...


Official Mom of SDN
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There are DO surgery residencies, so we certainly don't prohibit or discourage our graduates from pursuing surgical specialties. It is more difficult for DOs to get into MD surgical residencies, though.

Sirius Black

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There are numerous D.Os that match into surgery residencies, and likewise there are numerous D.O surgeons. It's certainly not discouraged at my school, where the "Student Osteopathic Surgical Association" is one of the most popular student organizations, and many of our anatomy instructors were former surgeons themselves. D.O school representatives and adcoms usually emphasize the need for primary care physicians and discourage specialization, which may account for some of the problems you ran into when talking to these D.Os. Try to find a D.O surgeon to gain more information from. When interviewing at a D.O school, most people just say they prefer primary care, when in reality they are planning on specializing. But if you can explain to the adcoms how surgery really does incorporate a "whole body approach", I'm pretty sure they wouldn't hold it against you (granted your MCAT/GPA/ECs are good). Like Dr Mom said, there are some "D.O only" surgery residencies, and since you can apply to M.D ones as well, you're chances of matching are even greater.


I just blue myself
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The DO I shadowed is an orthopaedic surgeon and he made a point to show me osteopathic principles in his surgical practice. The actual surgical procedures themselves do not differ from those performed by MDs. Rather, the difference was in his clinic, where he used OMM to treat various musculoskeletal disorders nonsurgically, took the time to get to know a little more about his patients' lifestyles, and really pressed for surgery as a last resort. He did an AOA residency in Ohio and an ACGME fellowship. He said the big difference in his training is that it really stressed open communication with patients.
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