MD vs DO – Overview
When you visit a doctor, you will have two options- MDs and DOs. Both of these medical professionals are similar in many ways. But in some areas, they both are different.
Everything you want to know about MDs and DOs is given in this article. Moreover, we have also provided a list of similarities and differences between DOs and MDs for a better understanding of these two terms.
Interestingly, both have similar duties and training procedures, but in some areas, they are different from each other and that’s what makes people confused between them. Let’s find out the differences between MDs and DOs.
What is an MD?
MD is a short form of Doctor of Medicine. They treat patients with various medical conditions with medications and conventional tools. They prescribe drugs, X-rays to diagnose special diseases or organs, and surgeries when needed. MDs are a part of allopathic doctors who treat patients mostly with drugs.
MDs work as primary care doctors or family physicians. MDs can choose from different practice areas where they need additional degrees or education to achieve mastery. Here’s the list of professionals which an MD can choose from!
- Geriatric Medicine
- Organs or Specific Body Parts
As noted above, most people prefer to go with the MD as they provide instant care and are easily available as they act as primary care doctors in the healthcare industry.
MDs pursue their education in allopathy which is a part of modern medicine. In allopathy, patients are treated with medications.
Doctors would prescribe several lab tests, and after getting the test results, they would prescribe medicines or follow some procedures to treat the patient with various health conditions.
Allopathic medicine is a primary subject in most schools for those who are pursuing their MD degrees.
What is a DO?
DO is a short form of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Unlike MDs, DOs use similar techniques to treat patients, along with some extra methods. DOs give special care to their patients as they use a holistic method where the patient’s mind, emotions, and body are all considered.
DOs also work as primary care doctors. They have their special clinics or can work in hospitals to serve the patients. Just like MDs, DOs can also choose from several specialties to pursue their future career.
They can prescribe medicines, can perform surgeries to treat the patients. As mentioned above, DOs involve the patients’ minds and emotions while treating them. It’s a good way to treat patients suffering from various health conditions.
DOs learn Osteopathy while pursuing their studies at the university. As noted above, DOs involve the minds and emotions of the patients. They prefer to study the entire patient’s body while treating a specific medical condition.
In addition to procedures and methods that MDs follow, DOs learn more about treating patients with the same methods by using osteopathic manual medicine i.e. OMM.
DOs prefer a physical examination of the patient before prescribing any drugs or medical tests. It involves…
- Feeling body parts such as joints, bones, and organs through the skin
- Applying pressure to body parts for further study
- Stretching out body parts to examine deeper
What Are the Similarities between MDs and DOs?
- MDs and DOs diagnose patients with different health conditions with scientifically proven techniques. They follow a standard structure where they first examine the patient’s body, then prescribe their lab tests, and after that, they can prescribe drugs and try out methods.
- Both MDs and DOs have to pass out the standard 4-year medical course. After completing the 4-year medical degree program, they must practice residency for 3-7 years to earn their license for general practice.
- MDs and DOs meet the same education and practice requirements to earn their license. Both professionals achieve their licenses from the same state licensing boards.
- A licensed MD or DO can practice across the US i.e. in all 50 states with the same license.
- MDs and DOs have several specialties which are common across the US. In every specialty, there are medical professionals containing MD or DO degrees.
- The undergraduate medical path is the same for both professions. It starts with a bachelor’s degree, pre-medical coursework, and passing out MCAT exams.
What Are the Differences between MDs and DOs?
- Unlike MDs, students who pursue osteopathic schools must complete 200 hours of courses on new techniques. The new manipulation techniques involve the entire human body, mind, and emotions. The DOs utilize all these techniques to treat the patients.
- In the US, DOs are primary care providers, unlike MDs who specialize in a particular field. MDs practice in a specific field, such as orthopedics, dermatology, cardiology, etc.
- The majority of medical physicians in the US are MDs, and less than 10% of the medical physicians are DOs. The other medical professionals have earned their licenses from abroad and are now practicing in the US.
- DOs do their practice mostly in rural areas, whereas MDs perform their duties in urban areas.
- The medical licensing programs for both degrees are also different. MDs take medical licensing programs from COMPLEX i.e. Comprehensive Medical Licensing Examination. On the other hand, DOs take the United States Medical Licensing Exam to earn their degree license.
Which Medical Profession is easy- MD or DO?
The acceptance rate for DO is lower as the number of accredited programs for DOs is very less compared to MDs. In the US, there are 37 programs for DOs compared to 155 for MDs. Since there are more programs for MDs available, most students prefer to go with the MD field.
Moreover, they have better options for choosing their specialty compared to the DOs with limited accredited programs. What’s shocking is it is harder to get into MD than DO. Students with exceptional knowledge and hard work can get into the MDs as it is harder.
Which Profession is good for me, MD or DO?
There is no clear answer to this question as it depends on the candidate choosing the right field per her future goal. Both professions are equal in most things. Only a few differences make both professions different from each other.
If a medical student wants to practice in a more varied field, then DO is a good choice. DO prefer to prescribe medications for general health conditions. They first examine the patient’s body and mind and then prescribe medications for treatment.
On the other hand, MDs specialize in a particular field, such as skin, heart, eye, pediatrics, etc. If a medical student wants to go with a specific field in medical science i.e. for eyes or bones, then MD is the right profession.
The Bottom Line:
Both MDs and DOs can practice in any medical specialty as the doors are open for both professions. It depends on the candidate which field is good for them as both have many things in common. Candidates should focus on the differences between these professions, which might clarify their doubts about choosing one of the two available options.
The need for both MD and DO in the United States keeps increasing. The number of healthcare premises is also growing rapidly. We hope this article helps us know the similarity and differences between the terms DO and MD.
Explore the given information and share the same with your children or colleagues who might have confessions over MD and DO terms.