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the unknown factor

Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by prolixless, Feb 2, 2001.

  1. prolixless

    prolixless Senior Member

    Oct 25, 2000
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    It is true that when people select their GP physician from a list of physicians on their HMO plan or out of a phone book, the majority more often than not bypass the DO's in favor of the MD's simply because they have no idea what a DO is, nor do they want to take the time to find out what a DO is. On the surface it would appear that DO's are a dwindling group among physicians. But do DO's actually receive less patient clientele as compared to MD's? Even if the answer is yes--which I'm not yet convinced it is--the difference in clientele proportions are likely insignificant and inconsequential. First, as any GP physician will tell you, a successful practice is established by word of mouth and not by a huge number of people who scan their HMO plans or telephone book and then select your name because they like the way it sounds. That is to say, the success of your practice is dependent upon if the majority of the patients you treat believe you are a good doctor, and hence they then suggest you to their friends and family, who in turn spread the word about you. The letters after your name become irrelevant at this stage. Secondly, there will exist a minority of people who do indeed know what DO's are, and who will indeed actively seek you out for treatment because you are a DO. Thirdly, if you work in a hospital as a brain surgeon, for example, then you will be known as a brain surgeon and you will be sought out because you are a brain surgeon. The reality of a hospital atmosphere is that you become important to people because of what you can do and not because of the letters behind your name. Also, I should note that DO's tend to enter primary care fields where there is a great need for physicians. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this suggests that DO's are likely treating a comparitively large portion of health care consumers.
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  3. nathan

    nathan Member

    Jan 15, 2001
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    I believe that your exactly right! Physicians develop their practice by how they treat and diagnose their patients, not by the initials behind their name. I work for a group of cardiologists and cardio-thoracic surgeons who are all MDs (in fact, a couple of the surgeons were in the first medical class trained by none other than Dr. Debakey himself down at Baylor). They have all given me their opinions on this debate and guess what, they each had about the same opinion- a doctor is a doctor is a doctor. I would have thought they would have been totally MD all the way. However, this was in fact not the case. I think the biggest concern that patients have is that if their doctor will in fact go the "extra mile" for them, answer all of their questions and concerns in a respectful, sincere manner, and treat them with the utmost quality in patient care. When it comes down to it, I really don't think they're too much concerned with the initials behind their name. Back to where I work- the group of physicians that I work for, who are pretty much as specialized as specialized can get, would love to have a DO within their practice! Not only would those patients who know and like the DO approach be more likely to choose the DO cardiologist, the other primary care doctors who are DOs would more likely refer their patients to the DO cardiologist. Believe me, the other hospital in town who has their own heart institute is using this tactic, and we are definitely starting to hurt from it by not having a DO in the practice (a few of the doctors I worked for said that if I was a practicing osteopathic cardiologist right now, they would hire me on the spot, no questions asked).
  4. Stephen Ewen

    Feb 5, 2000
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    My HMO booklet has a description of all possible letters that might be found after entrants names: MD, DO, OD, DMD, DDS, PsyD, PhD, PT, OT, etc., etc.

    The discription for what a DO is is directly from the AOA.

  5. glands75

    glands75 Member

    Oct 1, 2000
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    I asked myself some of these same questions over a year ago when I began investigating "the DO difference". First, I learned that the DO field is growing... rapidly! Here's some information from the AOA in Chicago, IL:
    1. The % change in numbers of DO's by state has been POSITIVE in every state (except District of Columbia) from 1990-1998 with states like NY inc. by 88.25% and North Dakota by 159%. The DO-friendly states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida have lower increases by percent, but only because they have a LOT of DO's to begin with.
    2. The # of DO's/100,000 pop. has INCREASED in every state (except District of Columbia and New Mexico) from 1990-1998 with some increases of 169%(NH), 130%(CT), and 155%(ND). Modest increases were noticed in DO-friendly states: 22.15%(OH), 19.69%(MI), 36.31%(NJ)
    [these stats do not include graduates of the newest DO schools, LECOM and the DO school in San Fran]
    If anyone thinks that the 40,000+ DO's in the country are starving for patients, they are fooling themselves. I work in one of the osteopathic hospitals in Ohio and believe me, there is no shortage of patients!!!

    Oddly enough, though, some cities such as Cincinnati have strict practicing rules for D.O's. For a DO to have priveleges at a Cinci hospital, he/she has to be in a practice with at least one MD. So, there are some not-so-friendly-DO cities even in DO-friendly states!

    IMHO, the biggest problem for pre-meds is explaining what a DO is to family members and friends who haven't had exposure to them (or at least don't realize that the doctor they saw last week was a DO!)



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