What Is a DO?

DOs practice a “whole person” approach to medicine. Instead of just treating you for specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole.

Osteopathy or Osteopathic Medicine is an American school of practice founded by Andrew Taylor Still, a frontier doctor, who practiced in Missouri and Kansas in the 19th and early 20th century. He called himself and his graduates Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.)

Dr. Still believed that health is the natural state of the human body and that the body is capable of self-healing and repair (given adequate nutrition and hygiene) and disease only occurs when something interferes with capability.

He also rejected the toxic drug and some of the other empiric treatments of the day and developed a system of treatment based on the anatomy and physiology of the human body. He believed that disease was due to obstruction of the flow of blood, nerve conduction, breath, lymph and all the other fluids of the body that provide nutrition to the cells and carry waste products away. He developed techniques to relieve these obstructions, many of which used bones as levers. That concept inspired the name of his new science, Osteopathy.

DO’s are fully licensed physicians and practice in all medical and surgical specialties. They perform surgery, deliver babies and prescribe drugs.

DO’s like MD’s, typically complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree with the same pre-medical courses.

Both DO’s and MD’s complete 4 years of medical education and then enter internships, residencies and fellowships lasting 3-8 years to enter any specialty that they choose.

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated into the training and practice of DO’s from the very first week of medical school. With OMT, DO’s use their hands to encourage your body’s natural tendency towards good health.