Navigating Medicine: DO's and MD's
By: Stephanie Nagy
“Hello, my name is Dr. Smith, and I will be helping you today!” You look down on their name tag and see D.O. You ask yourself, what is a D.O.? Why are they not there an M.D.?
This has been a large controversy for decades but has recently been brought to the media’s forefront, as the physician who treated President Trump for COVID-19 was a D.O. The media called into question the physician’s ability to care for the President and their credentials.
Let’s uncover the differences between these two equally qualified practitioners and their roles in the healthcare system.
What are D.O.’s?
· These are physicians that are trained in a holistic approach to medicine in which they consider the patient’s environment, nutrition, and body systems when making a diagnosis.
What are M.D.’s?
· These are physicians trained in allopathic medicine, which focuses on diagnosis and treatment.
What are some differences?
· Both physicians completed 4 years of medical school, but D.O.’s complete 200-300 hours in addition to learning manipulation techniques in the musculoskeletal.
· D.O.’s generally chose more primary care areas while M.D.’s typically chose to specialize more as physicians.
What are the similarities?
· They are both able to prescribe medications
· They are able to practice in all 50 States and Canada
· They are both physicians, and they are both equally qualified to care for patients in and out of the hospital setting
So why does Canada have such a low number of D.O’s practicing? Well, the reason is that Canada does not have any Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees, only Doctor of Medicine degrees. Very few U.S. trained D.O.’s come back to Canada to practice, which is a leading cause as to why this qualified group of physicians are rarely seen in our healthcare system.
Overall, misconception drives these doubts in the public’s mind. M.D.’s are more prominent in the healthcare system especially in Canada. The general public has more exposure to M.D. physicians, so when faced with a physician with a different degree, it is common to be curious and ask questions. I believe more information and awareness must be brought to the qualifications of D.O.’s in order for them to be more respected and acknowledged in the American and Canadian healthcare system. As every individual in the healthcare system, strives to improve the conditions of their patients, D.O.’s and their work are crucial aspects and regard must be given for their work.