Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) practice a “whole person” approach to medicine and they have a special passion for preventive health care. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole. They receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system — your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of its body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect another part of it.

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health. By combining all available medical procedures with OMT, D.O.s offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today.

Osteopathic medicine is a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body’s ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly and keeping fit.

MDs and DOs are very similar in that applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges are required to have a four-year undergraduate degree 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 can choose to practice in a specialty area of medicine — such as surgery, family practice or psychiatry–after completing a residency program (typically two to six years of additional training). Both D.O.s and M.D.s must pass comparable state licensing exams. D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.