Questions about Osteopathic Schools

I did not want to take over Jerilyn’s post, so I thought that I would post my questions here for the D.O.s on the forum. I’ve been reading up on the medical schools in Arizona, UA/ASU, Midwestern and A.T. Still. UA/ASU is a allopathic school, and the other two, as pointed out by OldManDave, are osteopathic. I have been reading more about ostepathic medicine, but I could use some clarification.

I have read A.T. Still’s story about how he developed Osteopathic medicine and what it is about. However, to me it seems like a D.O. is a regular doctor mixed with a chiropractor. The other part of osteopathic medicine is somthing that I agree with in that treating a patient means to treat the whole patient not just the illness. By that I mean that a persons emotional, spiritualy, and mental state is just as important as their physical state.

So the question is, have I got the right idea about what a D.O. does? Those of you that are D.O.s, what have been your experiences as a D.O. that defines the meaning of osteopathic medicine?

From the infromation on Midwestern, I am really interested in that school. Any one have experience with that school? I am sure OldManDave has some good advice about A.T. Still. For my tour with Midwestern I have the basic student questions to ask, but what other questions should I ask specific about osteopathic medicine?

The differences are predominantly philosophic, which doetails nicely into why DO programs tend to have a higher percentage of non-trad students. Folks who have been out in the world and have experienced life tend to embrace the “whole-person” philosophy much more than someone who has never really any reason to peer beyond the small world they have always existed in - nothing disparaging towards ou younger colleagues. In fact, I think it is unfair to expect them to have the ability to relate in the same we older people do.

Once upon a time, that whole person focus was radically different. Add to that (Iam referring to the Civil War & immediately post era up into the 1920/30s), the traditional Western medicine did more harm than good. I mean Jesus, Docs were giving patients “potions” filled with booze (EtOH) on the mild side - merely a bit of fradulent deception) up to other cures whose active ingredients came from a laundry list of mercury, strictnine, lead, opium and other very toxic substances. That was the climate that osteopathic medicine was born in. ATStill merely wanted to do less harm - he was an MD & only later in life was given his DO.

So, in the interest of not harming people, he decided to devise a system of care that did not embrace “modern medical compounds”. Manipulation, at the very least, alleviates symptoms and improves overall disposition This is especially nicewhen you consider the Western-med docs were essentially poisoning their pts with heavy metals & getting them hooked on opiates - the most golden of intentions, mind you, because they truly believed what they were doing was helping.

It was not until the 40s, 50s & 60s that DOs began getting full prescriptive authority. In fact, at one time, it was a merit badge of DO honor to resist this movement. Evidence clearly shows that in the 1914~1919 flu pandemic that pts had significantly less morbidity and mortality if they were treated by DOs instead of MDs. Of course, in retrospect, if one doc is giving you mercury and lead compounds and the other is giving manipulations, to folks who were sicker than snot with influenze, whose pts do you think are gonna do better?

Jump forward to today - virtually all MD & DO programs at least give lip service to a people-centered focus of care delivery - some are far more legit than others. Hell, I graduated from the FOUNDING school. But, when I worked with Michigan St MD students in Saginaw, MI (a 3rd & 4th year site for both MI St (MD) & KCOM), their program was head & shoulders more touchy feely.

In the actual practice medicine, yes, there are differences in how people do it. In fact, there are huge differences. However, I find those differences to be far more a product of who that person was PRIOR to med school than a result of the med school or the residency they attended. In other words, if you put Ghandi thru an MD program, he’s probably gonna still be a nice dude. If you put Archie Bunker thru a DO program, he’s probably gonna remain a bigoted asshole.

Anyone who quotes Yoda deserves my respect!

In another thread I’ve posted in a nice person suggested I look into and consider D.O. schools, as an alternative to M.D. schools.

Please forgive my ignorance, and I mean to not insult in anyway.

Do D.O. schools teach the same science as M.D. schools? You said the differences are mostly philosophical.

I guess my question is then, why do people appear to consider the D.O. schools to be a secondary alternative to M.D. schools?

Thanks Dave for your info and the more that I research into Midwestern In Glendale , The more interested in Osteopathy I become. I was just a little confused when the information that I was reading started talking about what seemed to me to be more chiropractic in nature than and over all treatment of the patient.

Rotane, DOs do get the same training as MDs with anout 200 extra hours of addidtion training in Osteopathy. DOs can do everything a MD can, perscribe medications, surgery, and so forth. As to whether DOs are considered less than MDs, weel in another forum that I found that question was brought up. The answer is that when it really comes down to it, the fact that you are a DO and not an MD doesn;t really matter. ALthough the research that I have found shows that people are not that familiure with DOs and can make your treatment of them much harder.

Is the treatment difficulty a trust issue?

Also, do you know if insurance companies will generally pay for DO’s the same as MD’s?

Thank you for your feedback.

D.O.s are much more familiar to folks in the Midwest than on either coast and so I suspect there are some health care consumers in, say, Westchester County, NY; the suburbs of Boston; or my home of Northern Virginia – where some allegedly well-educated consumers are going to question a doctor’s credentials.

(Although I have to tell you that it is far less common for consumers to question their doctors’ credentials than you might think, if your main impression of this issue is from reading SDN.)

However, most patients are much more concerned about how they are treated by their doctor, and they don’t notice that the degree has different initials.

And yes, D.O.s and M.D.s are covered equally by insurance companies for equal services. In fact, there are procedure codes for osteopathic manipulation that, at least theoretically, could represent a little bit of additional reimbursement for the D.O.!

Dave gives a nice description of the history behind the development of the “alternative” approach to the practice of medicine that was embraced by D.O. schools. EVERY school of medicine, allopathic or osteopathic, is going to say that they want to teach new doctors how to “Treat The Whole Person.” You are not going to read literature from an allopathic school that says, “We train you to think of the science - that is the only important thing. We want you to be confident in your knowledge so that you can decide what is best for your patients.” No, of course you are not going to see that. You will see stuff about shared decision-making, therapeutic alliances, communication techniques.

As long as I am rambling, let me say something about marketing. I think when we are looking at the prospect of applying/getting accepted to medical school, we feel like supplicants: “Oh please please please let me in.” And we look at the odds: 10,000 applicants for 150 seats! OMG! We end up with a notion that med schools don’t need to recruit - they just sit back and let us come to them.

Well, that is NOT true. My alma mater (one of those 10,000 applicant places) has exhibited at OPM conferences and participates in other conferences to promote applications. Med schools will mail you stuff, will put ads in publications, etc. etc. They want you to want them. There is plenty of marketing going on.

That said, D.O. schools have chosen as a “hook” this “holistic approach” notion - and they can rightly claim that they have always approached the practice of medicine this way. Unfortunately, the phrasing of the stuff I’ve seen leaves the impression that allopathic programs do NOT consider the whole person. As Dave said, there is lots of “touchy-feely” to go around.

So in that respect, I do think that the D.O. marketing is a little misleading but hey, they can say what they want in order to get you to pay attention. Look at how we are talking about it here.

There may be a few high-powered specialties where D.O. does not equal M.D. But for the rest of us, there’s no question:

D.O. = M.D.


For what it’s worth… I was looking for a DO to shadow in the emergency department of our local hospital (I volunteer there), so I asked some of the nurses who they recommended. Not one nurse knew which doctors were MD vs DO. That should tell you something.

For that matter, my cousin, who lives less than 100 miles from ATSU-Kirksville (the original DO school), didn’t know her own doctor was a DO. . . . and now her cousin (me) is one, too!!

A lot of your inputs hit directly at home.

The holistic approach is very appealing, and for the reason you mentioned.

I had an interesting experience recently regarding the MD vs. DO issue. I was shadowing at the local hospital last week where I am friends with a couple of the docs. I was following around two of the attendings when we were all introduced to a new pain fellow. They introduced me and told him of my medical school aspirations. He gave me little in the way of advice except to avoid D.O. schools as they were an inferior education. I must say that I had a very hard time holding back the laughter when he was informed that not only were both the docs DO’s (his immediate supervisors), but so was the head of his department. While I was amazed to see such an ignorant viewpoint held by a young doc, my friends noted that it was going to be an interesting time dealing with this young man.

I’d love to see the look of that kids face when his superiors lay into him.

That’s priceless! I wish I could’ve witnessed that first-hand! Thanks for sharing that, I needed the laugh!

This is new information i came across in my research. Osteopathic Medical College Information Booklet, Class of 2010 page 14.

Osteopathic Training for U.S.–Trained

Health Professionals

Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational

Therapists, Physician Assistants, Chiropractors

and Others Who Want to Earn a DO


Many allied health professionals seek

admission to osteopathic medical schools.

These students must complete the entire

curriculum at an accredited osteopathic

medical school, and they must complete

an internship and residency. Schools may

award credit for certain courses or experiences

on an individual basis. Contact the

admissions department at a college for

specific information. Residency training in

the student’s specialty of choice is strongly

recommended. A proven dedication to

patient health and experience in a clinical

setting will certainly help you in the

admissions process.