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What is a D.O.?

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)?

Dr Leschek is a graduate of the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.  “I am frequently asked; What is a D.O.?”  You may not be aware that in the U.S. there are two types of licensed physicians; D.O.s (osteopathic physicians) and M.D.s (allopathic physicians).  Both D.O.s and M.D.s are fully qualified physicians licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery.  


D.O.s and M.D.s are alike in many ways:

  • Graduates of D.O. and M.D. medical colleges typically have four-year undergraduate degrees with an emphasis on scientific courses.
  • Both D.O.s and M.D.s complete four years of basic medical education.
  • After medical school, both D.O.s and M.D.s obtain additional graduate medical education through such programs as internships and residencies.  This training typically lasts three to six years and prepares D.O.s and M.D.s to practice a specialty.
  • Both D.O.s and M.D.s can choose to practice in any specialty area of medicine; such as neurology, pediatrics, family practice, psychiatry, surgery or obstetrics.
  • D.O.s and M.D.s must pass examinations to obtain state licenses.
  • D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.


How are they Different?

  • Approximately 65% of practicing osteopathic physicians specializes in primary care areas, such as pediatrics, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and internal medicine.
  • Many D.O.s fill a critical need for physicians by practicing in rural and other medically underserved communities.
  • Osteopathic medical schools emphasize training students to be primary care physicians.
  • D.O.s practices a "whole person" approach to medicine.  Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.
  • Osteopathic physicians focus on preventive health care.
  • D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system; your body's interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of your body mass.  This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an illness or injury in one part of your body can affect another.
  • Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of osteopathic physicians.  With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and to encourage your body's natural tendency toward good health.  Not all D.O.’s utilize OMT in their practice.
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