There are two types of physicians in the United States—DOs and MDs. DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Osteopathic physicians have the same scope of practice as MDs—they can prescribe medications, perform surgery and specialize in any field of medicine. DOs first obtain a 4 year bachelor’s degree, then attend a 4 year medical school, complete a residency in their specialty (another 4 years for psychiatry) and, lastly, pass all of the necessary examinations to obtain licensure and the ability to prescribe medications.
What makes DOs unique is their “whole person” or “holistic” approach, which takes into account the whole person and every aspect of their lives, not just their symptoms. There is a focus on integrative health care, which combines traditional Western medicine with alternative medicine such as Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, acupuncture and Chiropractic Medicine. Finally, osteopathic physicians receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system.
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