Sunday, March 1, 2009

M.D. or D.O. - What type of doctor is best for you?

Pop Quiz – Is your physician a M.D., or a D.O.? Should it matter to you?

Many people don’t realize that in the United States there are two groups of physicians fully licensed to prescribe medicine and to practice in all specialty areas, including surgery.

In many respects, there is little difference between the two. Both types must graduate from an accredited medical school. Before they can start their careers, newly minted M.D.s and D.Os receive additional, on-the-job graduate medical training through internships and residencies, which typically last three to six years.

But it is the type of training they receive that sets them apart. M.D.s, or medical doctors, learn to treat specific symptoms or illnesses, whereas D.O.s, or doctors of osteopathic medicine, practice a “whole person” approach to medicine with an emphasis on preventive health care. They are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.

According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), "D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – the body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones, providing them with an in-depth understanding of the ways that illness or injury in one part of the body can affect another. With this knowledge, D.O.s incorporate osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) into their patient care, using their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage the body’s natural tendency toward good health."

I bring this up because National Osteopathic Medicine (NOM) Week begins today. NOM Week brings supporters of the osteopathic medical profession together to focus on one common goal – increasing awareness of osteopathic medicine and osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) in communities across the country.

If you’re in the process of selecting a new primary care physician, the AOA lists several questions to ask yourself before considering an osteopathic physician. Another great resource for Northwest Baltimore residents in selecting a doctor is the Physician Directory of Md.MD For Life magazine, which you can see here.

What do you think? What factors do you consider when selecting a doctor? What is more important - reputation or experience and training?

1 comment:

Tom said...

As an allopathic (M.D.) medical student myself I am secure with myself and my thought process. I fully support the osteopathic community and have worked with and been treated my several great Osteopathic physicians. I would, however, like to point out that sometimes I read about things like "indepth training in the nervous system." or "using your hands to diagnose." This may be true but it implies that we (M.D.s) do not do thse things. I have spent countless nights studying the nervous system, receieved training with neurologists, neuro surgeons, neuro ophthalmologists and Ph.Ds of neuro anatomy and clinical psychology. So while I support th DO's and don't put their training down, they must at the sametim respect our level of training (after all Harvard, Yale, Cornell, UPenn etc are MDs..and yea they understand the nerves of the body pretty well too). Secondly...We ALL use our hands to diagnose...this is fundamental. I don't just look at a patient and say "You have a gallstone." I obviously was trained to a complete physical with palpation percussion, etc. The M.D. community thrives on prevention and we even have a residency program dedicated to "preventative medicine." We try to use physical activity, diet and lifestyle changes as a first resort when possible. I know this was long but I just don't want people to think that the M.Ds just throw meds and surgery around. In the end the American patient is fortunate to have two wonderful groups of physicians to choose from!