When available doctors are listed as the traditional medical doctor or the more unfamiliar doctor of osteopathy, or DO, it becomes important to define an osteopath to make an informed decision. Choosing between the two may be more difficult than you think.
How to Define an Osteopath versus a Medical Doctor: Similarities
Being an MD or an osteopath requires many years of education. Both must graduate from a college or university with an undergraduate degree and a focus on science. In addition, both must compete four years of medical school. Then, both MDs and DOs complete a residency and choose a specialty. Both types of doctors must also pass licensing exams in their home states, either to become a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
After going through all of the steps to qualify, both MDs and DOs take care of their patients, from prescribing medication to performing surgery, depending on their specialty. In addition, both types of doctors try to emphasize preventative medicine to help patients avoid future illnesses and complications.
How to Define a DO versus an MD: Differences
DOs receive extra training about the muscular and skeletal system of human beings so that they can practice osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT. OMT focuses on the joints, muscles, nerves and bones in the body. DOs use their hands to improve the body's circulation, helping the body to heal naturally.
In addition, an osteopath may be more likely to ask questions beyond your current health and the health of your immediate family than an MD, including questions about your emotional responses to illnesses.
Choosing an Osteopath or an MD
Traditionally, osteopaths have focused on treating the whole body, while MDs have focused on treating symptoms of illnesses. However, this line between the two styles has started to blur over time. Both types of doctors understand the impact of lifestyle and preventative medicine on a patient's overall health.
Before choosing a medical doctor or an osteopath, check his or her credentials and background. Remember that regardless of whether your doctor is a DO or an MD, you aren't marrying your physician. If you don't like his or her approach or philosophy, you can always change doctors.
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