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MD vs. DO – What’s the Difference?

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The healthcare world is big! And big is even an understatement because of how quickly knowledge is advancing in our modern world. All that knowledge comes with new titles, new areas of study, and new concepts to learn about as a patient. It’s a lot! Can we provide a road map through all the abbreviations for you? Let’s start with MD (medical doctor) and DO (doctor of osteopathic medicine).

At PrimeCARE, we have both MDs and DOs. Let’s hit the high points of how they’re alike and different.

How are they alike?

There are many more similarities than differences. Both MD and DO practitioners are licensed healthcare providers that have attended a 4 year medical school and completed a residency. Both types of doctors can be found in primary care settings and in specialty medicine too, providing comprehensive care by combining their education, experience, and latest medical advancements to treat their patients.

It’s likely you’d have a hard time deciphering if your provider is an MD or DO after a regular check-up. They are able to provide the same scope of care. You might hear that DO’s are more likely to look at your health from a holistic perspective, and in the past, this might have been a more true statement. But in years, many medical doctors also look beyond treating symptoms to the lifestyle choices that are impacting health.

Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) should be someone you can rely on to walk your health journey out with you. They should be a safe person for you to talk to and someone whose opinion you can trust. So find a MD or DO that you can partner with! Both want to see you establish good habits and make healthy choices as their patient.

How are they different?

The most noted differences are in education and approach.

A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) spend medical school learning much of the same content that MD students study. The rigorous curriculum of either setting sets a high bar for applicants to the programs and students have years of in class instruction and clinical residencies. But “as part of their education, DOs receive special training in the musculoskeletal system, your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones.” according to the American Osteopathic Association.

How might they approach your illness differently? A Doctor of Allopathic Medicine (MDs) tends to be more focused on healing through a targeted medicines and procedures. DOs are likely to consider the patients musculoskeletal system and lifestyle choices too while treating with medicine and procedures. But, as in all things, personality and communication style could be even more significant to you as a patient then the doctors approach.

Confident & Collaborative

PrimeCARE has always taken a collaborative approach to building our healthcare teams! We love our MD and DO physicians and all the mid-level providers who serve our patients so well. We hope this gives you a little more confidence in knowing the types of providers you might meet at a PrimeCARE clinic.

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