Dr.Jekyll

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I was having a chat with my dad about what the different doctors do at the hospital he worked at, and the subject of D.O.s was brought up. He told me what a D.O. does, and to me it sounded like D.O.s do the same things that an M.D. would. This seemed weird to me, because if both positions did the same job, what would be the point in having M.D.s rather than or D.O.s anyway?

My question is "How does a D.O. differ from an M.D., and specifically, what kinds of different cases do you treat?"
 

matteaton81

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MDs and DOs are basically the same; they are both medical doctors and enjoy the same privileges. The only difference is that osteopaths have a slightly different philosophy. They treat and emphasize the whole person, not just the person's symptoms. They care about optimum health and therefore emphasize preventative medicine moreso than MDs.

The notion that MDs are superior to DOs is a misconception. The director of the ER at my hometown hospital is a DO. We have two gastroenterologists in town, both DOs, who are making ungodly money. My father knows a guy whose son-in-law, who is a DO, was offered a position that paid $400,000 a year. I am going to be a DO and can't wait to have a great career.
 
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Dr.Jekyll

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I never said that M.D.s were superior to D.O.s, they both go through the same training as far as I know.

Can D.O.s get into the same specialties as M.D.s?
 

Pharos

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matteaton81 said:
MDs and DOs are basically the same; they are both medical doctors and enjoy the same privileges. The only difference is that osteopaths have a slightly different philosophy. They treat and emphasize the whole person, not just the person's symptoms. They care about optimum health and therefore emphasize preventative medicine moreso than MDs.

The notion that MDs are superior to DOs is a misconception. The director of the ER at my hometown hospital is a DO. We have two gastroenterologists in town, both DOs, who are making ungodly money. My father knows a guy whose son-in-law, who is a DO, was offered a position that paid $400,000 a year. I am going to be a DO and can't wait to have a great career.
Yes, they are basically the same except for some philosophical differences and the addition of also learning some hands-on manipulative therapies as well. However, it should probably be noted that the "treat and emphasize the whole person, not just the person's symptoms" is really a bit of the osteopathic profession's history, originating from a time when the MD community didn't take such a highly patient centered approach. Today, MDs also take a patient centered approach - and it's very hard to get a good lock on the differences between the two. As a general rule, many DOs do tend toward primary care, as this is where their personal interests lie - but they can specialize in any type of medicine, same as MDs, if they wish. If you try the search function - there have been many discussions about this. Maybe someone will posts some links to recent searches if you hang tight. Sorry, I don't have the time right now. (Also, my apologies for the choppy post).
 

Pharos

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Pharos said:
Yes, they are basically the same except for some philosophical differences and the addition of also learning some hands-on manipulative therapies as well. However, it should probably be noted that the "treat and emphasize the whole person, not just the person's symptoms" is really a bit of the osteopathic profession's history, originating from a time when the MD community didn't take such a highly patient centered approach. Today, MDs also take a patient centered approach - and it's very hard to get a good lock on the differences between the two. As a general rule, many DOs do tend toward primary care, as this is where their personal interests lie - but they can specialize in any type of medicine, same as MDs, if they wish. If you try the search function - there have been many discussions about this. Maybe someone will posts some links to recent searches if you hang tight. Sorry, I don't have the time right now. (Also, my apologies for the choppy post).
Oops...check out tkim6599's link. (I was creating my response while he/she posted).
 

HoodyHoo

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matteaton81 said:
The only difference is that osteopaths have a slightly different philosophy. They treat and emphasize the whole person, not just the person's symptoms. They care about optimum health and therefore emphasize preventative medicine moreso than MDs.
I hate it when this statment comes up because it makes us sound like we are learning the superior way to treat the patient, thus making us sound arrogant. This has so much more to do with the individual person than their respective title.
 

matteaton81

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HoodyHoo said:
I hate it when this statment comes up because it makes us sound like we are learning the superior way to treat the patient, thus making us sound arrogant. This has so much more to do with the individual person than their respective title.
My bad, dude. The differences are so minute (or at least I have found them to be) that I told the OP the best answer I could come up with. Sorry if it sounds somewhat condescending.

By the way, OP...if you interview at WVSOM, you might possibly be asked why you want to become a DO as opposed to an MD. So be ready!!!!
 

Dr.Jekyll

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Can anyone give me an example of how a D.O. would treat a medical case differently from an M.D.? Like, if someone came in with a resistant liver absess, how would a D.O. treat the patient?
 

NonTradMed

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DO schools traditionally shared a different philosophical approach to treating a patient (whole person, holistic) than an MD, but the two types of schools have merged so closely in terms of teaching/philosophy that there is absolutely no difference in how they treat a patient in terms of patient care and drugs prescribed. I think it now comes down to personally preference more than anything else in how you want to treat a patient.

The only real substantial difference is the OMM stuff which some schools stress while others do not. A family practice doc can perform OMT on their patients and get paid for it. That's about the only real difference in terms of practice.

In other words, there is no educational differences between DOs and MDs, only a historical breach which has brought enimity between the two schools which have been closing in recent decades. Today, you will find DOs in all specialities, in all parts of the country. However, DOs still predominate in the primary cares, in the mid-west and west.

The only thing is, DO grads may be discriminated by some residency directors for competitive programs (and perhaps by employers subtly) in parts of the country like the northeast and california (maybe). And DOs may have a harder time getting into a competitive residencies like derm, rad, ENT.

The former part is because of the 'old school' of thinking in parts of the country, which is disappearing, but won't completely be gone until the doctors educated in the decades past retire. The latter part is because specialities tend to predominate in the MD world and the MD world tend to favor their own students over the DO in some places. However, this is becoming less true (from what I've heard). Also, DO students have their own residencies they can go into, but about 60% of the school I'll be attending do MD residencies (can't give you # for other schools). As far as I know, all DO students match (at least the ones at the school I'm going to have 100% match :D), and a majority (50-60%) go into primary care. The rest specialize.

In the end, the difference between the two docs is the OMT, and the focus (so the DOs say) on primary care. Other than that, going to a DO doc will get you the same result as an MD doc---any difference in 'treating the person, not the symptoms' is based on personal taste, not education.
 

DOctorJay

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it's not that crazy, dentists can be DMD or DDS, psychologists can be PhD or PsyD

I'd argue that DOs have a much better handle on the musculoskeletal system (also sited in JBJS as MDs having deficient mskel ed.) as we learn it from day one and how to treat it throughout med school (thus the focus on primary care, mskel related problems are high on the list for pts going to primary care docs).

anything a MD can do a DO can do (some things may be harder to get based on spots/programs available).

regarding liver abscess, we read the same literature, we'll treat the same, BUT we might treat the mskel system as well based on complaints of pain referred from the liver or it might tip us off to the diagnosis to begin with.

-J
 

NoOneKnows

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DOs definitely pay more attention to the musculoskeletal system. My sister went into urgent care because she had felt something slip out of place (a posterior rib, an acutely rotated vertebrae, I don't know) and was in some pretty good pain. She has received treatments from me in the past and I've done some educating with her while I've treated her and so probably had a pretty good idea of what had happened. The MD she saw said, "it's just a muscle spasm, here is a prescription for some muscle relaxants." A DO would have been able to address the problem more accurately.
 

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Here's my take on the question:

How a Doctor interacts w/ a patient, as in having great bedside manner and addressing issues such as overall health, wellness and preventative medicine is up to the individual Doctor and likely stems from their personality to begin with. However, DO schools have traditionally stressed these issues more with their students. I say traditionally because the line is getting blurry as more and more MD schools train their students with this approach. My point here is that even though this aspect may be stressed more at DO schools, once out of school it is up to the individual Doctor to decide how to interact with patients. There have been a few (but small) studies done that did show patients reporting their DO Doctors spending more time with them in appointments then MD Doctors, but the studies where on too small of a scale to have much significance.


Regarding the musculoskeletal issue, think of the 2 extremely common complaints of headaches and back pain (or even general pain anywhere else). OMM offers more then simply prescribing pills in these instances (and many others..but thats for another convo at another time). Having a deep understanding of functional anatomy, and not just static (ie in a cadaver), along w/ OMM training, allows for physical treatment of the ailments (or at least hands on diagnosis).

OMM is NOT useful for ALL diseases/problems, but for the ones that it is good for, your patients will thank you for relieving them of their symptoms.

When you get into the realm of specialties that are far from primary care, ie Anesthesiology, you likely won't be doing any OMM on patients, and likely won't see much of a difference in MD/DO. However, what you still do have is a well-trained physician.


ps....the whole "Treat the Patients, not the Symptoms" thing seems somewhat antiquated....however I have heard that the AOA has adopted a new slogan along the lines of "Treating your family, by our family" (something like that...not exactly sure). I don't love it, but have no problem with it.
 

Dr.Jekyll

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Thanks to everyone for clearing this up. I eventually want to go into internal medicine (infectious diseases) but I didn't know if I would like to be a D.O., as opposed to an M.D., because I thought D.O.s would handle the case entirely differentyl. Thanks :D
 
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