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D.O. versus M.D.–What’s the Difference?


D.O. versus M.D.–What’s the Difference?

Finding a physician that suits your personality and approach to medicine can be tough. Where do you start? Depending on what you value most in regards to your health care, looking at a provider’s title can help guide you towards finding someone with whom you can have a lasting and trusting relationship.

With our providers, you’ll probably notice right away that there is a mix of D.O.s, which are Osteopathic Doctors, and M.D.s, which are Medical Doctors. We consider this a major benefit and love having so many different types of physicians, special interests, and approaches to medicine within one practice. So, what exactly is the difference between the two?

What Do D.O.s and M.D.s Have in Common?

It’s important to first understand that both are doctors. Both D.O.s and M.D.s go to medical school and attend a residency program. Both work to diagnose and treat health issues using scientifically-proven methods, and both are qualified to help you with your preventive care or with a plan to help treat a problem.

What is the Difference in Their Approach & Training?

M.D.s are trained to practice the classical form of medicine, which means they evaluate your symptoms and focus on forming a diagnosis and treatment plan based on those symptoms. D.O.s, on the other hand, learn to practice osteopathic medicine, which means their approach is more holistic (treating the mind, body, and spirit), and their focus is not on symptoms alone but rather the whole patient. Of course, this doesn’t mean that M.D.s never have a holistic approach or that D.O.s ignore your symptoms. Approaches to medicine often go beyond titles, and your doctor’s communication style, bedside manner, and personality should all be considered when you’re looking for a good match.

While both M.D.s and D.O.s are qualified to partner with you in your health journey, their training, like their approach to treatment, tend to vary slightly. D.O.s receive 200 hours of training in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment, which means they know how to use hands-on care to help diagnose, treat, and prevent illness. In addition, a D.O. is accredited by the American Osteopathic Associate Commission while an M.D. is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

How Should You Choose a Provider?

So what do these differences mean for you as a patient? In many cases, you may not notice a difference, and the titles may not matter to you. The bottom line is that you should find someone with whom you are comfortable, and if choosing an M.D. over a D.O. or vice versa is part of that decision, then that’s great! Either way, you should communicate with your provider about what type of approach you prefer and whether or not you can work that way together. The good news is that if you find yourself seeking a different type of approach or communication style, you can always mix up who you are seeing within our practice until you find the right fit!

To schedule an appointment with a VPFW provider, you can call us at 804-897-2100 or set an appointment online.

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