What is a D.O.?

Posted under Articles.

By: Michael Kauzlarich, D.O.

You may have noticed that some of the physicians you see in the Tri-Cities area, including some of the physicians at Mountain Region Family Medicine, have the professional designation of D.O. behind their name instead of M.D. So what does that mean?

D.O. stands for “Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.” There are currently more than 18,000 students in 26 osteopathic medical schools throughout the United States that grant the D.O. degree.  An osteopathic physician is trained in the full scope of medical and surgical care, just like an M.D. (an “allopathic” physician). Like an M.D. osteopathic physicians can be primary care doctors such as family physicians and pediatricians, or they can specialize in various branches of medicine, surgery, and psychiatry.  The medical schooling and residency training that they undergo is the same length and intensity, the licensing examinations are the same, and in general most patients will not immediately notice a difference.

Where osteopathic physicians differ has more to do with the increased emphasis in their training on primary care, preventative medicine, and “hands-on” or manual medicine, which includes the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of muscle and joint ailments using manipulation techniques or “OMT” (Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy).

Whether your physician is a D.O. or an M.D., you can be assured that he or she is fully trained and licensed in all aspects of medical and surgical care of their patients.  For more information about the “D.O. difference” and osteopathic medicine, speak with one of the D.O.s at Mountain Region Family Medicine, or visit www.osteopathic.org.