Do You Know The Difference Between an MD and a DO?

It’s important to be informed before heading into a medical appointment of any kind, but with so much information it can be difficult to know what’s important to prioritize. When it comes to all the lettering and titles in the medical industry, it can seem confusing and convoluted. One of the most common questions patients have is what the difference is between a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), and which one they should choose. While both are doctors licensed to practice in the United States, there are some differences. Since we have an MD and a DO in our office, we’re making those differences easy for you to understand:

Doctor of Medicine (MD)

A Doctor of Medicine, or an MD, is a fully licensed physician who is trained to practice in all areas of medicine, and typically choose a field of specialization (think primary care, podiatry, gynecology etc.). MDs are the most popular practice of medicine, and this practice focuses on what is called allopathic medicine — this means diagnosing and treating symptoms and diseases. In order to become an MD, the prospective doctor must complete 4 years of medical school, complete a residency program, and take and pass the US Medical Licensing Exam. MDs are focused on treating specific symptoms of disease and injury.

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, are fully licensed physicians who are trained to practice in all areas of medicine, and choose their field of specialization — just like MDs. The main difference is that a DO focuses on the whole body and how it works together. Osteopathic practitioners pay extra attention to the musculoskeletal system, which includes the nerves, muscles, and bones, believing that a number of diseases and health issues stem from and are due to problems in these areas. In order to practice, they (like MDs) must complete 4 years of medical school, complete a residency program, and pass the Comprehensive Medical Licensing Examination.

In addition to utilizing a holistic approach to diagnose and heal the body, DOs often times use touch as well. It is their belief that touch can be healing, and that it can also aid in diagnosing: this practice is called osteopathic manipulative treatment, or OMT. DO practitioners believe that the entire body is connected: simply put if you come in for a neck injury, a DO trained doctor will likely take a look at more than justyour neck to help diagnose and treat your injury. In other words, they’ll be factoring in your whole body, including lifestyle and environment to provide the best possible care for you. Otherwise, DOs prescribe medication, perform surgery, run tests, and everything else you would expect from a doctor’s visit.

Regardless of which route you choose, at Derm Skin Health you’re in good hands. We have both an MD and a DO in our office and our trained, professional doctors cover a broad spectrum, so you can feel safe and well-cared for. If you or a loved one is looking for medical support in New Hampshire or Massachusetts, give us a call: (603) 742-5556. We look forward to helping you feel like the best version of yourself.


*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.

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We're happy to answer any questions you may have, feel free to call us at
(603) 742-5556