There are a lot of different types of doctors out there. Cardiologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, etc. But specialties aside, there are really just two different types of doctors, M.D. and D.O.
If you look at the history of doctors, you’ll find they date all the way back to 25,000 BC. Famous Greek physician Hippocrates is known as the “Father of Modern Medicine.” He wrote a collection of around seventy early medical works and invented the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which is still relevant and in use by today’s modern doctors.
Regardless of what type of doctor you’re seeing, you can take solace in knowing your physician spent a lot of years in school and has endured a lot of training hours. So let’s look at the different types of doctors and what they treat.
Different Types of Doctors: M.D.
M.D. stands for Medical Doctor. They practice what is called allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is also referred to as “Western medicine.” It’s the classical form of medicine, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines allopathic medicine as: “A system of medical practice that aims to combat disease by use of remedies such as drugs or performing surgeries.”
Medical Doctors are physicians who work in places like:
- Medical centers
- Private practice
M.D. is probably the type of doctor you’re more familiar with, but these days, you have options.
Different Types of Doctors: D.O.
A doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) is a fully trained and licensed doctor who attends and graduates from a U.S. osteopathic medical school.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, doctors of osteopathic medicine regard the body as an integrated whole, rather than diagnosing and treating for specific symptoms only.
The main difference between MDs and DOs is that osteopathic physicians receive bonus training in musculoskeletal health, which may result in a more “hands on” medical visit.
Physicians with a D.O. are licensed in all 50 states to practice medicine and surgery, as well as to prescribe medications. The education for both degrees is similar, and both are required to complete accredited medical residencies.
One major difference is D.O. programs place an emphasis on primary care. Most D.O.s are in:
D.O.s are trained to ask questions like this to gain a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s lifestyle, which can impact their condition.
It’s good to know that you have so many options when choosing a physician that’s right for you. If you need more information you can download our guide: “Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Primary Care Physician”. In it you’ll learn the difference between family medicine and primary care physicians and tips for picking your doctor.