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MD vs DO: Which Doctor is Right For You?

by Dr. Rodney Aziz

· doctor,medical,osteopathic,medicine,health

As you search for a new doctor, you may come across several acronyms, such as MD and DO. The distinction between these two types of clinicians may not be clear, so you may not feel confident about which type of doctor works best for your unique needs.


What is an MD?

When you see MD after a physician’s name, it means that the person is a medical doctor. Medical doctors receive specialized education and experience with diagnosing and treating conditions.


What is a DO?

A physician with the letters DO behind their name is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. As with the MD, a doctor of osteopathic medicine diagnoses and treats medical conditions. The key difference between the MD and DO is that the DO takes a more holistic approach to health and well-being.


Education Requirements

MDs and DOs complete the same basic educational requirements.

  • Four years of medical school
  • Internship
  • Residency
  • Optional fellowship
  • State licensing examinations

The doctor of osteopathic medicine also completes training in osteopathic manipulative treatment which is a special technique that is used to enhance the body’s ability to heal and repair itself.


Which Doctor is Right for You?

Knowing if the MD or DO is the best option for you is really an individual choice. If you want a doctor that focuses on specific symptoms and conditions, then choose the MD. Doctors of osteopathic medicine represent one of the newest chapters in western medicine in that they take a holistic approach to medical care. They not only look at your symptoms, lab results and other clinical indicators, but also your quality of life, how well you feel and any challenges that you face each day. Some men and women prefer the more limited focus of the MD while others appreciate the more global treatment perspective of the doctor of osteopathic medicine.


Alternative Treatments

Acupuncture, massage therapy, and other alternative approaches are slowly being integrated into traditional western medicine. If you are interested in alternative therapies, a doctor of osteopathic medicine may provide the necessary insight, guidance, and referrals for these types of treatments. While each patient is unique, some of the benefits of alternative therapies may include:


  • Reducing dependence on medications
  • Managing side effects
  • Improving stamina, balance and coordination
  • Reducing the risk of medical conditions and complications in the future

Dr. Rodney Aziz originally published this article on his website.

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