What is the Difference between a D.O. and a M.D.

Wendy A Kindrick, D.O.


D.O.’s and M.D.’s are alike in many ways:

  • Applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both D.O.’s and M.D.’s complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both D.O.’s and M.D.’s obtain graduate medical education through such programs as interships and residencies. This training typically lasts three to six years and prepares D.O.’s M.D.’s to practice a specialty.
  • Both D.O.’s and M.D.’s can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine – such as pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
  • Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
  • D.O.’s practice a “whole person”approach to medicine. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.
  • Osteopathic physicians focus on preventative health care.
  • D.O.’s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system-your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.