What is a D.O.?

Michael R. Bernui, D.O.
Michael R. Bernui, D.O.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

The D.O. degree stands for doctor of osteopathy or doctor of osteopathic medicine. There are two kinds of medical schools that qualify graduates to practice medicine and surgery in all 50 states and various countries throughout the world. Those two types of schools are allopathic and osteopathic. Allopathic medical school graduates receive an M.D. degree. Osteopathic medical school graduates receive a D.O. degree. Graduates from either type of school are licensed to order tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, write prescriptions, and admit patients to hospitals.

In an osteopathic medical school, medical students learn from a curriculum that is equal to their allopathic counterparts, but they are taught with a more holistic philosophy. They are also instructed in the relationship of the musculoskeletal system to other organ systems and disease and they receive additional training in musculoskeletal manipulation as a therapy to treat their patients.

Osteopathic physicians are found in virtually every medical specialty. By the nature of their work in a particular specialty, some osteopathic physicians may not use manipulation as a regular part of their treatment plan. Even so, all have been trained to look at the whole person and structure their treatment plans accordingly.