Looking at DO Schools.

Issues specific to osteopathic medical education and practice as a DO.

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Looking at DO Schools.

Postby jtboseovski » Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:52 am

I have an interest in osteopathic medicine but until now I haven't done much research on them. I only decided a few months ago to pursue medicine and I've taken the MCAT and am working on getting my grades up. I agree so much with the philosophy of this particular branch of medicine but I though I would ask anyone willing to respond to lend some information about the art.

Thanks,
Jovan
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Re: Looking at DO Schools.

Postby DOdoc » Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:13 pm

This is an older post, but I guarantee I know a lot about it--so will revisit the topic.

Historically, DO medicine has been a separate branch of medicine altogether and was not formally recognized until fairly recently (the last hold-out state to recognize osteopathy was, I believe, Louisiana in the 1990's). Currently, DOs are viewed the same as any other physician (some "old-school" MDs can still have a bais, but this is slowly disappearing) and have the exact same priviledges as MD physicians.

The only significant difference is that DOs are trained in OMM (osteopathic manipulative medicine) whereas MDs are not. For DO medical students, they are eligible to take both COMLEX and the USMLE whereas MDs can only take USMLE. Therefore, a DO student can apply to ANY residency program but MD students can ONLY apply to allopathic residencies. This isn't a significant advantage, but hey--take what you can get--it can open a few more doors.

One of the biggest misconceptions about DOs is concerning the "holistic" approach. While it is true that DOs consider the whole in addition to the parts, I can tell you that most MDs do too. Any good physician--DO or MD--should be looking at the whole patient and considering less-than-obvious causes for any presenting complaint. What the difference is, is that DOs are trained to consider the overall health status of the patient, and looks for methods to improve this through the use of manual medicine. More specifically, DOs hone their skills to focus on lymphatics and somatic dysfunctions, under the belief that disturbances in these (among others) exacerbates, or at times may cause, illness or disease in other ways. Note that this is very point specific--it's not that DOs just look at the whole body and MDs somehow don't. I guarantee you that they do. Or that they should...

There are many similarities between the DO philosophy and other medicine approaches. For example, the use of acupuncture closely parallels OMM. In acupuncture, the physician is addressing the Chi--the life force--where as the DO is addressing the lymphatic drainage. In both approaches, many of the treatment locations are exactly the same. So for skeptics to the DO approach, there is substantial proof out there that it is very much for real and not some sort of pseudo-science that can't be proven. However, I honestly believe that healing is at least 80% mental, if not more, so you are always going to run into people who will swear BY their DO, and others who will swear AT their DO. But the same can be said about not only MDs, but many other practioners.

Though not stated in this question, DOs are NOT "like chiropracters"!! This is one question that will chaff me faster than any. There are significant differences between the two fields and the approach and treatment varies substantially. I have respect for chiropracters as I do any other professional and they are not any better or worse so I will not knock them. You have good and bad chiropracters like any other field. Where I can find fault, however, is when chiropracters will over-reach their abilities. Though there may be some benefit in spinal adjustment (chiropracters are generally limited to the axial spine whereas DOs can manipulate anywhere on the body) with regard to a patient with diabetes, it will NOT cure it--I've heard this claimed by my own ears. With that said, I can only imagine how some DOs have made similar claims so it isn't that I have issue with--it's the comparision of the two and elevating chiropracters to a level they cannot achieve. Again, I have respect for them--I've even been treated by them--so please don't misunderstand my words. As an aisde, the history we were taught was that Palmer, the founder of chiropractic medicine, was not accepted into DO school so he snuck into manipulation classes anyway. He was found out and tossed out after only learning the treatment for the spine. I don't know the exact truth in that, however, but the point is that the two fields are related but in no way are identical.

Today, DO education is streamlined. For the most part, the boards are essentially the same except that COMLEX includes manipulative medicine whereas USMLE does not. Beyond that, residencies are basically the same and the boards are basically the same. There are differences, and there are differences in teaching philosophy. But seeing a DO as a patient doesn't guarantee you that that physician is somehow any more as much as that seeing an MD is somehow less. DOs can have an extra trick in their bag of cures that an MD won't have--but only if the DO chooses to practice it (most don't). I do not regret my decision to become a DO and have pride for my profession, but I also have tremendous respect for all those who have completed the journey into and through medical school equally the same. Even chiropracters. :)

Good luck,
Dr. F.
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