What is a DO vs MD?

There are two paths to become a licensed physician in the United States; while most are familiar with the more common MD degree, DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathy. Osteopathic medicine was created by the physician Andrew Taylor Still to address health needs that were not being helped (and were often being harmed) by the 19th century medical community. Today, the profession has evolved to incorporate modern medications and surgeries, with osteopathic physicians (DOs) often training alongside allopathic physicians (MDs) during residency; however, osteopathic medical schools are still unique for their adherence to osteopathic medicine’s core tenets, additional training in anatomy, and focus on hands-on care.


Osteopathic medicine is ultimately defined by its distinctive holistic philosophy that recognizes each individual has their own unique combination of body, mind, and spirit. All three constantly interact and inform each other, to the extent that positive (or negative) shifts in one aspect of our health can have a direct and meaningful impact on the others. At its most basic level, this means that stress or disease in the body, mind, or spirit is often felt by patients as physical pain and produces a dysfunction in the body which can be identified and diagnosed through a detailed and focused exam. In turn, treating those dysfunctions can positively impact their initial cause. Although many patients may initially come to a DO to find pain relief, osteopathic physicians are trained to further seek the root cause of that pain and dysfunction so they can address it at its source.