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What’s the difference between an M.D. and a D.O.? Aren’t they both doctors?

Filed under Personal Injury

While most physicians have a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, a growing number of physicians are graduating with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. The American Medical Association defines a physician as “an individual who has received a ‘Doctor of Medicine’ or a ‘Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine’ degree following a successful completion of a prescribed course of study from a school of medicine or osteopathic medicine.” The medical training of M.D. student vs. a D.O. student is virtually identical. Both graduates complete similar written exams and residencies at US hospital and training programs. D.O. graduates can be licensed in all states, serve in the military, and are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as their M.D. colleagues.

There are currently 141 US medical schools, accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which awards the M.D. degree while there are 29 US colleges of osteopathic medicine. D.O. medical schools are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Education. Both M.D. and D.O. students complete core clinical clerkships in Internal Medicine, Surgery, Family Practice, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics. The biggest difference in medical school training is osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), a manual therapy which is taught for approximately 8 weeks during the 3rd and 4th years of D.O. school. OMM is an osteopathic or “holistic” approach to medicine which incorporates the patient’s physical and mental health in relation to the observed illness.

The most important thing when you are choosing a physician is to look their experience treating people like you. Ask where they received their training or how many surgeries have they performed like yours. The patient-physician relationship is the basic unit of medicine. Make sure you are comfortable with your doctor and understand the possible benefits and risks of a procedure as well as an alternative therapy which might benefit you.

Bottom line: All M.D.’s and D.O.’s have the same medical and clinical training and pass similar written exams to practice medicine. This does not mean all physicians are the same, some are better than others. When seeking care, ask questions until you are comfortable with your doctor. You deserve quality care. If you feel you have been a victim of medical malpractice or have even been in a car accident, you have rights. These issues can be complicated and involve different medical specialists, insurance companies, and attorneys. Let us help you through this process. Don’t get mad, get legal!


photo of Paul Padda

Paul Padda, a former federal prosecutor, is the founder of Paul Padda Law: a law firm based in Las Vegas Nevada representing plaintiffs throughout the nation in personal injury and other civil cases. With over 15 years experience litigating in federal and state court, Paul has a proven track record of success, including obtaining one of the largest jury verdicts in Nevada history. A first generation American, Paul is dedicated and committed to helping his clients navigate the legal system and take on large and powerful interests. A lawyer who truly cares, Paul provides individualized and compassionate attention to each and every one of his clients.

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