Here is an article that shows the mindset of some people who don't know what osteopathic physicians are...
No matter if it's choosing between bottled or tap, 39 flavors of ice cream or more than 50 different shades of beige paint for your walls, Americans like to have options.
But when it comes to healthcare, many people opt for plain vanilla medicine.
"I don't care about any of those other (practitioners). When I'm sick or hurt, I want to see a real doctor. I want an M.D.," says 58-year-old Susan Cooper of San Diego, as she recently waited to see her primary care physician at Scripps Clinic.
She admitted, however, that she "has no idea" what an osteopathic physician is; didn't know that a podiatrist has to have four years of podiatric medical school; and thought that a nurse practitioner is just an R.N. with a fancy title. While an increasing number of insurers expand medical coverage to include alternative practitioners, a lot of people are sticking with their conventional medical doctor often out of loyalty and conviction, but sometimes out of confusion.
"Of course people are confused and skeptical, and often misinformed. It's completely understandable. It's the unknown. We grew up with an M.D. being the family doctor and there's a basic lack of understanding of (alternative practitioners') skills and what they have to offer the patient," says Joseph Pizzorno, a Washington state naturopathic physician who co-authored "Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine."
"Patients are going to have to be much smarter consumers and educate themselves on the strengths and weaknesses of the care available before they can determine what's best for them," says Pizzorno, who was appointed to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy by President Clinton in 2000.
Although some medical doctors admit that their philosophy and science is different from alternative practitioners', they're often open-minded and say there's room for all kinds of healthcare.
"Even though I don't really understand things like acupuncture and chiropractic, it's good that there are (practitioners) reaching out to offer other options to people," says Dr. William Norcross, medical professor and chief of family medicine at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.
"I think it's a very good thing that we have these options. The reason we have more options is because conventional medicine has not answered every question and does not have treatments for every condition," he continued. "We owe it to people to educate them about the kinds of options they have and the scope of practice among various disciplines."
More patient choices means more consumer responsibilities, says Dr. David Leopold, who, in addition to being a medical doctor and director of integrative medical information at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, is also a certified acupuncturist with certification in osteopathic manipulation.
The onus is on the consumer to identify the healthcare practitioners they see, he says, and recommends checking out practitioners' training, board certifications, and other accreditations before an appointment.
"The most important thing a patient can do today is become informed," Leopold says. "An uninformed patient is vulnerable. An informed patient is empowered."