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Difference Between MD and DO

Difference Between MD and DO

This article presents information on the difference between MD and DO. Read further to know more about these individuals who try their best to cure you.
CareerStint Staff
Most of us are unaware of the different kinds of doctors. What I mean to say is, certainly, we know that there are different types, like a heart specialist, skin specialist, gynecologist, etc., what we are not able to distinguish between is the terms given to them according to the degrees they have received. Medical practitioners have various terms according to their education. In this article, we are going to see the difference between MD and DO.


The term MD stands for Doctor of Medicine and DO for Doctor of Osteopathic medicine. Education and training wise, there is hardly any difference between the two. Both of them must complete 4 years of education in premed or in related science, before they could start 4 year training to become a doctor. The training prepares them for the testing, MCAT, which they have to take to get a license. A student aspiring to become a doctor of medicine has to take USMLE examination to get. On the other hand, a DO has to clear COMLEX exam.

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The main difference lies in the philosophies that inspires them. It is said that a MD searches for the symptoms of a disease and the affected part. He then prescribes medicine, or advises a surgery to restore the health of the organ and ultimately that of his patient. On the other hand, a DO considers a human body as a complex network of muscles and skeletal system.

A doctor of osteopathy assumes a disease affects the whole body and tries to find its root cause. His training advises him to consider all the symptoms, directly related or unrelated, that he can find before arriving at a diagnosis. As a treatment, he rarely prescribes medicines and asks his patients to get surgical procedures done. Rather, he believes that the patients health can be restored by manipulating the bodies muscles and skeletal system.

Osteopathic Medical Treatment (OMT) is a part of a DO's training, and it is body manipulation on the same lines as done by chiropractors. If you visit your MD with a severe headache, he may ask to get some tests done and may prescribe some sort of painkillers for it. A DO, on the other hand, may first use his hand to physically check if there is something wrong with the muscles or bones of your neck. However, not all DO's practice OMT on each and every patient. In fact some of them don't practice it at all. They are more open to exploring alternative medicines, holistic medicine or herbal medicine, which a MD wouldn't, normally, go for, for the recovery of their patients.

Now, don't get the wrong impression that the MD's aren't useful anymore or DO's cannot perform surgeries and prescribe medicine. There are many MD's who, instead of treating a diseased part of the patients body, tries to treat him of the disease. Their approach is to better the health by offering proper patient care, using what they are trained with and believe in.

Whatever is the difference, one shouldn't forget that both of them are highly competent professionals, both of them have achieved their license after hard work and rigorous testing. So who should one visit? It also depends on your physical condition, how much time you have in hand, as well as the progression of the disease.
Doctor of Osteopathic
Doctor of Medicine