Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO) is a professional doctoral degree for physicians in the United States. Holders of the DO degree are known as osteopathic physicians and have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as physicians with a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). Traditionally, DOs have been family physicians, however osteopathic physicians currently practice in every specialty field in medicine.
DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine and surgery in all 50 states, equivalent to their MD counterparts. Depending on state, licensure may be issued from a combined board (DO & MD) or a separate board of medical examiners; regardless, all of the 70 state boards are members of the Federation of State Medical Boards.
Currently, there are 26 medical schools in 34 locations across the US that offer the DO degree,, and 134 medical schools that offer the MD degree. Osteopathic physicians comprise 7% of the total US physician population; there are over 70,480 DOs in the country, of which 63,121 are in active practice. As of 2011, 1 in 5 medical students in the United States are DO students.
Education and training
Osteopathic medical school curricula closely mirror those of Doctor of Medicine MD-granting medical schools. The first two years focus on the biomedical and clinical sciences, followed by core clinical training in the clinical specialties. Osteopathic medical school accreditation standards require training in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family practice, surgery, psychiatry, emergency medicine, radiology, preventive medicine and public health.
According to Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, "the training, practice, credentialing, licensure, and reimbursement of osteopathic physicians is virtually indistinguishable from those of physicians with MD qualifications, with 4 years of osteopathic medical school followed by specialty and subspecialty training and [board] certification." However, osteopathic physicians also receive an additional 300 – 500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system integrated into the medical curriculum, which is referred to as Osteopathic manipulative medicine.
After medical school, there are two main routes for graduate medical training for DOs. Many DOs attend the same internship and residency training programs as their MD counterparts,and then take MD specialty board exams.while other DO graduates enter osteopathic internships and residencies and take DO specialty board examinations.
Licensing and board certification
To obtain a license to practice medicine in the United States, medical students must pass one of two licensing boards at the conclusion of their medical training: USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) or COMLEX (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam).
Those that have received or in the process of earning a MD or DO are both eligible to sit for the USMLE. Because of their additional training, only holders of the DO are eligible to sit for the COMLEX....