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This is the advice I was given on DO vs. MD. What are your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by drdan83, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. drdan83

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    Today was my last day of my observership and I was talking to the medical students in my group. One girl said that DO's were more focused on taking care of the patient and MD's were more research oriented.

    I never thought of it like this as I was still caught up in the MD vs. DO stigma. If this is the case, than I guess I am wasting my time applying to allopathic programs because I am interested in treating sick patients; not necessarily finding the cure for whatever it is that is making them sick.


    What are your thoughts on DO MD's and their main focus?
     
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  3. jessiemsy

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    Granted I am not in either program yet but this seems very wrong. I am sure that both DO and MD want to work with patients. Otherwhise, why go to med school, might as well just get a PhD. When I was volunteering at an emergency room there were both DO's and MD's working as ER docs and I honestly could not tell the difference. The DO was awesome with patient and so were some of the MD's, others not so much.

    I'd love to hear other responses though, because like you, I really don't understand the difference between the two from a practical perspective.
     
  4. DrWily

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    I'd say both are focused on treating patients, but come from different philosophies. The DO philosophy teaches DOs to treat patients holistically, taking all things into consideration from lifestyle, to behavior, etc. The history of osteopathy stems from wanting to reduce medications and finding ways to heal without prescribing drugs "Alternative medicine". However, nowadays, DOs and MDs are basically the same: physicians. Both go through medical school and both get residencies.

    DOs are trained to be much more patient-centered, while some may argue that MDs treat symptoms. However, some DOs treat just the symptoms, and some MDs are much more holistic than their colleagues. It really depends on the person behind the letters, much more than the letters themselves. If you want to be a physician and treat patients, both paths will lead you there. As a physician, you will be judged much more on your ability to communicate, treat patients, and work with your medical team. No one will care if you are a D.O. vs an M.D.
     
  5. Dayzie

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    I'm inclined to think that you'll be whatever kind of doctor you want to be, regardless of the letters after your name. Some MDs are very patient-centered, and some DOs end up in labs.

    I do recall there being a statistic that showed that there were dramatically more DOs in primary care than MDs, though, for what it's worth.
     
  6. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    You're a marketing victim if you buy into the holistic philosophy or the "we treat the whole patient" or the "treat the patient not the disease" stuff.

    You'd have to work pretty hard to find an MD who thinks patient care isn't important. The stuff that the AOA (that's the DO version of the AMA) pushes as DO philosophy is called "malpractice prevention" and "good patient care" in MD/DO practice.

    One out of twenty DOs practice osteopathic manipulation. In terms of practice, only that 5% are acting on the principles that still separate DO from MD.

    There are differences between DO and MD, but it's nearly impossible to predict as a premed what, if anything, among those differences is going to matter to you. Name a "problem" with being a DO and you'll find that the "problem" is specific to a DO school or region, and/or that it's present on the MD side as well. Name something DO's "can't do" and you'll find counterexamples without working too hard. There hasn't been a DO surgeon general yet - is that a dealbreaker? Stephen Colbert's doctor is a DO - is that a dealmaker?

    From what I've seen, 99% of the DO vs. MD discussion on SDN is drama and myth.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  7. Prncssbuttercup

    Prncssbuttercup Established Member -- Family Medicine Resident
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    I have two very good friends, one is a DO one an MD, they are both interested in preventative care, they are both interested in making sure their patients are treated fully not just symptoms... I don't see a big difference... I look at residencies, and I see DO and MD students for many...
     
  8. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I think that girl is either misinformed, or else she's caught in a time warp and didn't realize that she wasn't talking to a premed from the 1800s. Because in the 21st century, the distinction between MD and DO philosophy pretty much comes down to, well, um, not much of anything. We all agree these days that vaccines are good, a knowledge of pharmacology is necessary, and that patients should be treated holistically. It's true that DO schools and DO grads tend to be less research-oriented on the whole, but it's also true that most MD grads go out into community practice and do not become researchers either. And some DOs are very research-oriented; there are even a few DO/PhD programs out there.

    You should choose schools to apply to based on what you think will be the best fit for you. If you're not sure whether you're going to prefer an MD school versus a DO school, then keep your options open and apply to both.
     
  9. n3xa

    n3xa "the anchor"
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    This.

    There are both MD and DO programs that I didn't apply to because of lack of fit. Although when I couldn't find what I was looking for necessarily in a DO program, it kind of irked me more for a minute because of that whole notion that DOs do this holistic-community-oriented-prevention that I heard all about on The Internet (SDN). Ah well.
     
  10. xadmin

    xadmin Senior Member
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    DO and MD do the same thing. BUT DO schools are much easier to get into
     
  11. MSmentor018

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    well said. there are some political differences and each have their own residencies but for the practice of medicine itself.....it's really the individual that guides their own practice.

    not exactly. there are >100 MD programs, 20ish DO. numerically it's harder to enter DO school but you are correct, historically DO schools do have lower gpa/mcat so getting in could be easier. on the other hand there are plenty of low gpa/mcat MD places too. I've been watching the trends of grades/mcat for both and it's going up slowly. I think the historical thought of getting into DO>MD is easier will be on the way side due to increase in applications. carib programs are losing rotations in the us, mexico stopped 5th pathway program....students are working harder to stay in the states.

    the whole bit on research is a little skewed, mainly b/c MD programs outnumber DO programs in cranking out research projects. I just came back from both national symposium for MD and DO. MD's outnumber DO projects > 100 to 1 (and I think that's conservative). or just pick up any MD and DO journal and compare the research
     
  12. nickmx50

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    I've been working for a local hospital system for since April, and I work directly for the docs. I've worked directly with 50-75 docs, in roughly 15 different types of units. As far as I can tell, there is zero difference between how MD's or DO's treat people in an inpatient setting. There are resident teams that are mixed DO and MD. I've had more than one MD tell me that I shouldn't be afraid to go DO because it makes no difference in the real world.

    There are three big differences I can see in MD vs DO schools

    1. There are more MD schools; more choices on where to live
    2. MD schools have more research and funding for research
    3. Many MD schools have more grants and scholarships to offer for competitive students.

    For me, there's simply not enough DO school choices in cities where I want to live, including my home town.
     
  13. EdLongshanks

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    I started out wanting to have the "MD" after my name. I ended up at an osteopathic institution and I am glad of it.

    They do a lot of osteopathic propaganda around here, and I will pretend to believe it for as long as necessary. I am glad that we have the OMM class. I will use it in private even if I end up as a hospitalist and never get to do it professionally. The main reason that manual manipulation is not done very often is because it takes too long - 20 to 30 minutes at least. Few doctors could survive on 16 patients a day.

    There is one advantage of being a DO that I discovered during orientation week. We DO's and future DO's have a little bit of a complex about being in the minority, and therefore we band together tightly for each other's benefit. I have a physician mentor who is so determined to help me succeed that I am amazed. Even his wife has taken my wife under her wing. It is very nice. I never had this before.
     
  14. Enkidu

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    There is no actual difference between MD and DO, the alleged philosophical difference is garbage.

    DO schools will be more accepting of lower grades and MCAT scores. This is the reason that a lot people probably go to DO schools, although I've met people who have other special reasons.

    DO graduates are less competitive for certain types of residency programs, although they have their own exclusive residency programs as well. If you want to do your residency at a top research school you'll be at a disadvantage with a DO. Likewise if you want a competitive specialty like dermatology or plastic surgery it would be easier if you have an MD. This is a good thing to think about, since most students change their minds multiple times during medical school. You may begin wanting to be a family practice doc, but after a few years of medical school opt for the cool hours, big salary, and ray guns of radiation oncology.

    As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no curricular difference between MD and DO programs (except for that OMM stuff). I know quite a few DO students and I can't tell that there are any real cultural differences either. None of them want to go into family practice or anything. They do seem to like their OMM training, but statistically almost none of them will use it.
     
  15. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing
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    Thing is.

    Everyone thinks they're gonna be on TV. Professionally altering a perfectly resasonable set of breasts. Or saving lives. Or changing the landscape of medicine with groundbreaking work in research.

    But for 99.5%--a serious mf'n figure, do some research--people. Neither course would alter their ability to meet career goals.

    So then. It's back to location and fit and whatever else is much more important. I don't think Ed wants to live where I do. And I think I would punch myself in the nuts before even thinking about living in the midwest on purpous.
     
  16. Law2Doc

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    um no. Sounds more like someone is trying too hard to justify her career decisions to you. Truth of the matter is that there are probably fewer opportunities for research at a non-research oriented med school, of which most DO programs are not. But that doesn't lead to the corollary that MD schools are not focused on taking care of patients. They are. It just means there are more opportunities for MD students coming out of such places. Anyone who has to grasp at straws like this to justify their path over another is not happy with their career decision and should be avoided for career advice.
     
  17. drdan83

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    I think what she was trying to say is that DO's and MD's both take care of the patient but MD's have a "research" approach to treatment. I don't think she was saying that MD's don't take care of patients. She probably meant the approach is different.
     
  18. theseeker4

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    Either way, both MD's and DO's use evidence based medicine, based on scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals. They both prescribe drugs and use the full range of "non-alternative" approaches to treating their patients. How they approach the treatment of patients depends a lot more on the individual than the MD vs DO at the end of their name. Today, there is no real difference between MD's and DO's in their approach that can be applied across either group.

    If OMM is important to you, go DO. If you are not interested in that, and have no reason to avoid DO programs in general, decide on where you want to go on a school-by-school basis, not based on MD vs DO.
     
  19. jissho

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    Personally, I would prefer to go to a MD school because I intend to have a career in clinical research. MD schools seem to provide much more opportunities for clinical research training. On the other hand, one can still get research training at a DO school but options at these schools tend to be limited.
     
  20. Enkidu

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    Not sure what you mean by this post. Are you suggesting that there is no real benefit to an MD over a DO for all but 0.5% of students? I think that this is a little extreme.

    If you have an interest in academic medicine, then an MD is probably stronger for every field. MDs have an easier time getting into programs at top research institutions, and people from top research institutions have a better time getting academic positions. How big is this benefit? I don't really know, but I think it's real.

    I would not recommend a student to choose between MD and DO based simply on location without thinking hard about their career goals. Going to an MD program will give broader opportunities that will be very important for people whose interests develop in a certain way. For a lot of people the difference won't matter, but it's hard to tell how our interests will develop once we begin our medical training.

    Certainly the choice should not be made based on which profession offers holistic training or believes in a certain philosophy or any of that nonsense.
     
  21. DrMidlife

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    Thing is, it's not.
     
  22. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing
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    Great. Go for it scientist. I won't engage you in a llogical snoozefest. But will just say this. You guys are a loud corporately funded minority. That in no way represents rank and file circumstance.

    You're partial truths are in large part based on just what everyone says. Myself. I tend to think a decent student can make their way to the career they want.

    For most of us. This is true.

     
  23. Antisept

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    I'm a PGY2 MD. I thought I'd share a quick data point on this. My attending is a DO. When I was MS1, I might have said something about DOs, but what I've observed is a solid physician who made some great calls. There are some great DO schools out there. Sheedlo and Goljan rank way up there among my favorite books, and they are professors at DO schools (Texas or Oklahoma??). If you're inclined to do research, by all means go the MD route. Medical training is a long hard grueling process that demands great sacrifice. There is much mutual respect from both sides.
     
  24. n3xa

    n3xa "the anchor"
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    Looking back, the one person I know IRL (strong evidence here at n = 1 yo) that dropped out of medical school had this train of thought. Turned down a DO acceptance (first app cycle) and dropped out of a MD program after M1 year (second app cycle). YMMV.

    I'll get in where I fit in. I just hope it's somewhere. :laugh:
     
  25. Law2Doc

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    Agreed. OP, you have to realize that MD invented primary care and taking care of patients. DO is the offshoot, not vice versa. The origins of osteopathy stem from a philosophical schism which most osteopaths have long since lost interest in, instead trying to blend in with MDs. There are no shortage of DO grads seeking allopathic residencies because of the patient care training opportunities.
     
  26. EdLongshanks

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    Goljan is at OSU, my school.

    I agree with all of those who post about there not being any difference between the two sets of education (please don't tell my OMM professor, I think that she already suspects that I'm an imposter) . I also agree that, right now, MD schools have more grant money in research, although DO is catching up. I also agree about DO schools caring less about numbers But no medical school is easy to get into. I don't have any stupid classmates.

    I do, however, think that there is some advantage to belonging to a group of doctors who have a chip on their shoulder about their reputation and therefore band together into something of a clique. This might even make up for the inevitable "are you are real doctor" questions.
     
  27. NuttyEngDude

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    after being in corporate america for a while, i realize the importance of a strong network. i can definitely see a great advantage in this respect of not only choosing the right school but of DO as well.
     
  28. Law2Doc

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    Right, because there is never such a thing as a strong network of alumni at allopathic schools.:rolleyes: Please.
     
  29. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing
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    Well I don't know. But there's definitely all kinds of random pointless snark in medicine. And. For god's sake. Don't be a grown man and use the eye rolling thingy.
     
  30. NuttyEngDude

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    hehe You have taught me a valuable lesson in clarity but I think you may have jumped to a conclusion about what I was saying. Maybe I should have written it this way:

    I can see a good reason based on networking potential for:
    1. choosing the right school that fits you whether that be MD or DO
    2. an advantage from a DO perspective due to current demographics and historical prejudices

    :)

    reason 2 is explained in the previous posts in this thread, reason 1 is obvious because if you pick a school where you fit in and succeed you can network much better than if you didnt.

    I think it would be cool to discuss networking skills etc, in a different post. I'll try to brainstorm something on my flight back to my school/college town tomorrow, or if anyone else wants to start off a thread, by all means.
     
  31. EdLongshanks

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    I should say that having never attended an MD, I have no idea if you are given a connected and motivated doctor as a mentor in the first week. This may be true at all schools. I only know mine.

    This is something that interviewing students should ask about during their interviews.
     
  32. isoquin

    isoquin Allopathetic
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    Hate to say it but I think this is correct. When you get to med school, you will learn about a myriad of defense mechanisms in psychiatry. It sounds like this one is what is known as rationalization.

    With that being said, medicine is driven by research, and many MD schools encourage research. However there are also MD programs very much focused on primary care. Some schools actually have their MD and DO students learning the exact same material in the same classes at the same time in the first two years (with the exception of OMT). This should at the least prove that the divide isn't so wide, and your career is what you make of it.
     
  33. Law2Doc

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    I had several very good mentors during med school. One was assigned, the others I sought out once I picked a specialty.
     
  34. drdan83

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    I eavesdropped on a conversation between two DO residents who were complaining about a cardiologist who would demean them by saying that they were DO's and that they "Cracked backs." The same cardiologist also said that the St. Georges residents "Didn't know clinical medicine" because they were from the Caribbean.

    If DO = MD, then why is this cardiologist talking like this?
     
  35. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Because he's a d-bag. Newsflash for ya: some doctors are d-bags. ;)

    Likewise, and one of whom was a DO.
     
  36. Nasrudin

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  37. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I was looking at it more in the sense that this cardiologist is an attending who is a d-bag toward those residents just because he can be. If the residents had been AMGs with MDs instead of AMGs with DOs or IMGs, he would have mocked the school they attended because it wasn't a "good" allo school. Or, if their school was on the USNWR top fifty list, well, everyone knows that grads from those schools have sucky clinical skills. If they're an off-service resident (from another specialty doing a rotation), then anyone in X specialty is an idiot, and the residency program in X at this hospital isn't very good anyway. And so on.

    Unfortunately, there are some attendings like this. You will run into them as a medical student too, not just as a resident. Best thing to do is refuse to take the bait, and think of them as a cautionary tale for how not to be once you become an attending yourself.
     

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