Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Osteopathic medicine: What kind of doctor is a D.O.?

What kind of doctor is a D.O.? Does a D.O. have the same training as an M.D.?

Updated: 02-01-2013

Answer

A doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) is a fully trained and licensed doctor who has attended and graduated from a U.S. osteopathic medical school. A doctor of medicine (M.D.) has attended and graduated from a conventional (allopathic) medical school.

The major difference between osteopathic and allopathic doctors is that some osteopathic doctors provide manual medicine therapies, such as spinal manipulation or massage therapy, as part of their treatment.

After medical school, both M.D.s and D.O.s must complete residency training in their chosen specialties. They must also pass the same licensing examination before they can treat people and prescribe medications.