COMPtime: The Role of the Osteopathic Physician


Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) practice
a “whole person” approach to health care. Instead of just treating specific symptoms,
osteopathic physicians concentrate on treating the whole person. Osteopathic physicians understand how all
the body’s systems are interconnected and how each one affects the others. They focus special attention on the musculoskeletal
system, which reflects and influences the condition of all other body systems. Osteopathic physicians listen to patients
and their health concerns. DOs encourage patients to develop attitudes and lifestyles that don’t
just fight illness but also prevent disease. I’m often asked what’s the di!erence between
a DO and an MD. DO stands for Doctorate of Osteopathic medicine.
We take all of the same classes as MD’s, along with the same
licensing and board exams. We are eligible to train in any MD
residency program from Internal Medicine to Neurosurgery. The di!erence
is that DO’s receive additional training in holistic care and musculoskeletal
manipulation. The DO approach to medicine and
the health of the human body is slightly di!erent than an MD. A DO is
more likely to look at the whole person, rather than just treating an
individual symptom. Also, one of the basic tenets of Osteopathic
Medicine is the body’s ability to heal itself. The di!erence between
DO’s and MD’s is a very complicated subject that books have been
written about, but that’s a brief overview. DO’s are trained to look at an entire
patient and not just an individual problem, and that’s why a teambased,
holistic approach is needed. An infection is not always simply
an infection–it could be undiagnosed Type 2 Diabetes, like in Pat’s
case. It is naive to imagine that a meal plan and instructions to
exercise will take care of everything. I want to work with Pat to find
her health.

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