What is Osteopathic Medicine?

What is a DO?

Osteopathic medicine is a system of medical care that combines the needs of the patient, current practice of medicine, the interrelationships between structure and function and appreciation of the body’s ability to heal itself. DO’s and MD’s are licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery in all 50 states. DO's scope of practice and prescribing rights are unrestricted including the full spectrum of medical practice. DO's bring something extra to the practice of medicine, osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic physicians practice and approach medicine with a focus on treating the entire person rather than just the symptoms.

The Osteopathic Approach

For more than a century, osteopathic physicians have built a tradition of bringing health care to where it is needed most:

  • Approximately 60% of practicing osteopathic physicians practice in the primary care specialties of family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.
  • Many DOs fill a critical need for physicians by practicing in rural and other medically underserved communities.

In addition, these modern-day pioneers practice on the cutting edge of medicine. DOs combine today's medical technology with their ears to listen caringly to their patients, with their eyes to see their patients as whole persons, and with their hands to diagnose and treat patients for injury and illness.

DOs and MDs are Alike in Many Ways

Students entering both DO and MD medical colleges typically have already completed four-year bachelor's degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
Both DOs and MDs complete four years of basic medical education.
After medical school, both DOs and MDs obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. This training lasts three to eight years and prepares DOs and MDs to practice a specialty.
Both DOs and MDs can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine—such as pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry, surgery or ophthalmology.
DOs and MDs must pass comparable examinations to obtain state licenses.
DOs and MDs both practice in accredited and licensed health care facilities.
Together, DOs and MDs enhance the state of health care available in the U.S.

DOs belong to a separate, yet equal, branch of American medical care. The ways DOs and MDs are different enables a DO to bring an extra dimension to your health care.

Osteopathic physicians (DO) are licensed to practice medicine in all fifty states of the United States with all the privileges and responsibilities of allopathic doctors (MD). More than eight hundred osteopathic physicians currently practice medicine in North Carolina.  Colleges of osteopathic medicine are located in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and at the following national universities: Michigan State University, University of Ohio and Oklahoma State University.  Currently, 80 North Carolina residents are enrolled in various osteopathic medical schools located throughout the United States.