What is the difference between a medical doctor (M.D.) and a doctor of osteopathic (D.O.) medicine? Both types of physicians can prescribe medicine and treat patients in similar ways. But two major principles guiding osteopathic medical curriculum distinguish it from the medical school route. The 200-plus hours of training on the musculoskeletal system and the holistic look that serves the mind, body and spirit.
For years, doctors of osteopathic medicine have been growing in number alongside the better-known doctors of medicine. According to the American Osteopathic Association, the number of osteopathic doctors grew 63% in the past decade and nearly 300% over the past three decades. D.O.s represent 11% of practicing physicians in the U.S. and now 1 in 4 medical students in the country.
Osteopathic doctors take a different licensing exam. However, the curriculum for their medical training — four years of osteopathic medical school — is converging with M.D. training as holistic and preventive medicine becomes more mainstream. And starting this year, both M.D.s and D.O.s were placed into one accreditation pool to compete for the same residency training slots.