Should DO and MD merge?

I was asked a question last night that I don’t have enough first hand knowledge to answer. Anyone care to help me?
"“Why don’t DOs and DO students believe that the DO and MD professions should merge together? They are afterall, 95% the same.”

Oh, thought I should clarify,… I am not asking if they should merge, but rather, what would you say to someone who asked you this?
I started talking about the rich history and was told I was merely repeating what I had read and really had no first hand info about the topic, so how could I even reply intelligently. Grrrrrrr.

Not really having a dog in the fight (not being an MD or DO YET), I’d say Yes!.
The DO’s I’ve discussed osteopathic medicine with (small sample of 4-5) have all told me that they don’t perform osteopathic manipulation in their practice and haven’t since med school, so whats the point? Explaining osteopathic medicine to someone is kind of like explaing TV to my dog (no, it’s not like chiropractic but I can’t really tell you what the differences are). DO’s can do anything in the US that MD’s can do, but have more trouble outside the US. Most DO’s attend allopathic residencies than DO residencies.
So, from an “engineering efficiency” perspective, I’d say yes. If physicians want to do OMT, they can learn it as an add-on. (several DO schools offer summer programs for MD’s to learn OMT).

Hi there,
Neither the AMA nor the AOA is interested in giving up their powers as the governing bodies of their respective disciplines for various reasons. Rather, the public is going to have to get used to the fact that physicians come in two flavors. Sure, it’s a pain but the folks who seem to care more above this are pre-meds and the officers of the governing bodies (monetary thing). It really doesn’t matter to the patients today, whether you are a DO or MD except in the minds of folks who are on ego trips so I don’t expect any kind of “merger” with the two organizations mentioned above nor do I care about any kind of merger because it is not needed.

Merger - as Nat points out - it is not in the best interests of many people…many of whom dictate such policies. So, I would not hold my breath on this occuring. However, more pragmatically, those of us in the trenches - the REAL WORLD - know that DO & MD do not represent “two professions”. In reality, the one profession is “physician” and there are just 2 degrees that allow you to gain entry into this profession.
Traditionally, DOs are more human-centric than MDs. But I would never assert this now for a couple of reasons: 1) I would never insult my MD colleagues by making such an archiac description & 2) the way MD & DO schools teach one to become a physician now so overlap as to virtually be indistinguishable. Afterall, why do you think that the AOA has such a damned hard time defining their assertion of “different, but equal”? It is because in practical application, the “differences” are so transparent that it is not longer definable.
In fact, instead of regurgitating party-line rhetoric (anyone who knows me would never suspect that I had even towed any party-line just because it was/is the party-line – professed “Maverick” & quite proud of that!), I know explain to my patients, the very few who bother to make an inquiry, that it is just like dentists. A dentist can be a DMD or a DDS - two degrees & some minor philosophic differences , but both are dentists…same with MDs & DOs. To be perfectly honest, pts RARELY inquire - 99.9% of them will see you in your long white coat & scrubs or fancy-duds and as far as they are concerned - you are the Doctor & that is sufficient. More commonly, I get inquiriries from allied health professionals who are legitimately curious. I’ve never had anyone question my authority to be a physician, at least for the degree…nor challenge my legitimacy to claim the title. Here in New England, DOs are just not as common & they want to know more about it. Virtually always, they have had a friend or family member who went/goes to a DO & they want to ask questions of someone who can answer objectively w/o being emotionally charged - like the pre-med cadre.
At Dartmouth, even though there are a few of us DOs, we’re still quite the minority. In fact, most of the DO-trainees here are fellows & not residents (fellowships are what you do after a residency to sub-specialize i.e. cardiology fellowship, neurology fellowship, critical care med fellowship). But, at DHMC, all residency programs have DOs in them too - in fact, the new Peds Chief is a DO & fellow KCOM alumnus. IM, anesth & OB/Gyn have had DO Chiefs in years past - I plan (hope) to be the Chief in anesth one day! The ony place where we are poorly represented is in surgery - I am the only DO in surgery including residents & attendings. However, the Chair of Ortho Surg is a DO.
So, even an Ivy-league place like Dartmouth is very open & accepting of DOs. And, if you went around trying to pick us out of a crowd because we do things differently…you’d never succeed.

Hmmm…I don’t know. I’m pre-med (not in yet) so I’m not sure whether I’ll be a DO or MD. I don’t really care; I just want to be a doctor. I am very interested in the history and philosophy of osteopathic medicine, and it’s appealing to me. OMT just sounds like fun and one more extra “tool” I could use to treat patients, and I agree with treating the whole person, not just symptoms, etc. but the DO schools require those hefty deposits and that’s annoying and most of them want (recruit?) students who want to practice in rural areas. (I’m all about helping the underserved–but inner-city please. I’m a city girl at heart).
But, back to the original topic, I don’t see a merger happening. I think a lot of DO’s, especially the older ones that had to fight for the same respect MD’s are automatically granted, would be admantly opposed to a merger because of what they went through.
Also, like the others pointed out, neither the American Medical Association nor the American Osteopathic Association would probably be willing to give up their “power” to the other side. It’s a thought-provoking question, especially if you’re a DO or plan to be. (I have a feeling that the MD side probably doesn’t think about it as much).
I don’t have strong feelings either “for” or “against” a merger, but I don’t think it will happen. I may feel differently once I’m in medical school but probably not. I just want to be a good doctor.

I am a 2nd year DO student and I believe in Osteopathy. part of my education is different. I believe in finding health in every person I meet and treating them based both upon what works and what doesn’t work in thier body. I believe that helping one organ can help another that functions. I believe that my job is to figure out how to help the body heal itself, that in 9 times out of 10 it can. I believe that diagnosis through touch can sometimes be more accurate then blindly taken imaging. Other MD medical students may also believe these things, but I am taught the theories and proofs behind these things.

Well stated…however, once you are out in the world of medical practice, you will find that this construct that you are being taught as being virtually exclusive to osteopathic medicine is pretty much held by all. In fact, you will find a larger variation in approach to diagnostics, treatment & health maintainence by individual medical school than you will see b/t DO & MD.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad to see physicians becoming more people-centered…was long overdue.
Furthermore, each person’s “style” of doctoring & the way they interact with pts, peers, families & other healthcare professionals is far more a function of that individual than it is the program-style they attended. Sadly, a non-people person going through a DO-program will be very unlikely to be a people-centered physician merely for becoming a DO any more than a people-person becoming an MD will extinguish that flair.
“Treating people & not just symptoms” is purely an advertising gimmic, a public announcement of a ‘party line’ and, in my humble opinion, a back-handed slight to my MD colleagues. Furthermore, in an effort to declare its identity to the public at large and doing so in such an imprecise & advertisment-like format, again in my opinion, makes the AOA appear to be searching for its identity & doing its best to convince everyone too loudly - like a used car salesman.
The overwhelming majority of the DO students & DO residents I know cared not whit for one set of initials over another. They merely wished to become a physician.
That was certainly my desire. I certainly have perceived even the slightest hinderance for being a DO.