M.D. vs. D.O.: Do You Know the Difference? | Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.
m.d. vs. d.o. - medical care

M.D. vs. D.O.: Do You Know the Difference?

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

Many people seem to share the same misconception that all doctors are the same. The reasoning behind this may be that all physicians do the same four years of undergrad, then go on to medical schools, and then finish with their individual residencies. However, depending on what medical practices they follow, when you step into the doctor’s office, you may be seeing either an M.D. or a D.O.

What is a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)?

M.D. stands for medical doctor, or Doctor of Medicine. These healthcare professionals are what most people think of when they are talking about a physician and they are more prevalent in the West. Most M.D.s practice a type of medicine that is known as allopathic. M.D.s treat disease symptoms using drugs and surgery procedures and tend to specialize in specific fields of medicine, such as cardiology or orthopedics.

In the United States alone, 67.4% of practicing physicians are M.D.s, and each of them has taken the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) in order to start their career as a physician.

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)?

D.O. is shorthand for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. These physicians are fully licensed in the West, however, they are found more commonly in the East. D.O.s practice holistic medicine and have a “whole person” approach to treatment as they believe everything in the body is intricately connected.

D.O.s are trained to “consider a patient’s environment, nutrition, and body system as a whole when diagnosing and treating medical conditions.” They treat the person as a whole, not just their individual symptoms or injuries. D.O. medical schools require 200+ hours of manipulation training on top of regular medical coursework.

They receive training in OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment), and to practice in medicine, they must pass the COMLEX exam (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination). Nearly 65% of D.O.s practice in primary care–family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics–typically in rural settings.

M.D. vs D.O. – What’s the Difference?

Although they may seem different, M.D.s and D.O.s also share many important qualities and qualifications. Both base their diagnosis and treatment recommendations on conclusions that have been proven by science. They both can practice in all 50 states and are fully licensed by the American Medical Association. They follow the same educational path, with some small variations. Four years of undergrad, with a premed tract, MCATS, four years of medical school, to seven years of residency depending on their particular program. Both M.Ds and D.Os are equally and fully qualified.

What Should You Do If Your M.D. or D.O.’s Medical Practice Injures You?

When we step into the hospital or a doctor’s office, we expect to receive the best care possible from those most qualified to treat us and care for our well-being. However, a trip to the hospital can turn into a nightmare very quickly if something goes wrong. It does not matter if your physician is an M.D. or a D.O. If their care is lacking or you were mistreated or misdiagnosed while in their care, you have a right to compensation.

If you or someone you love has suffered due to the negligence of a physician who was not competent or qualified, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. for legal representation in the Scranton and Lackawanna area.

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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