What is a DO?

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?

A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, often abbreviated as DO, is a highly trained medical professional who practices osteopathic medicine. DOs are fully licensed physicians who specialize in a holistic approach to healthcare, aiming to treat the whole patient, rather than just the symptoms of a specific illness.

DOs undergo rigorous medical training similar to doctors of allopathic medicine (MDs), including completing four years of medical school and subsequent clinical rotations. What sets DOs apart is their unique approach to patient care, known as osteopathic medicine.

Key Characteristics of a DO:

  1. Osteopathic Philosophy: DOs are guided by the osteopathic philosophy, which emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body's systems and the body's innate ability to heal itself. They consider the musculoskeletal system as a key element in maintaining overall health.

  2. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT): One of the hallmark features of osteopathic medicine is the use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). This hands-on technique involves applying gentle pressure, stretching, and resistance to diagnose, treat, and prevent various health conditions. OMT can be used for a wide range of issues, including musculoskeletal problems, pain management, and even respiratory or circulatory disorders.

  3. Whole-Person Approach: DOs consider not just the physical aspects of a patient's health but also their emotional, social, and environmental factors. This comprehensive approach allows them to better understand and address the root causes of illnesses.

  4. Preventative Care: DOs are often advocates for preventive healthcare, encouraging their patients to adopt healthier lifestyles and make informed choices to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

  5. Medical Specializations: DOs can pursue careers in all specialties and medical settings, from primary care clinics to surgical suites, making a significant impact on healthcare across the spectrum.

Why Choose a DO?

Choosing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine means opting for a physician who not only has a deep understanding of medical science but also a commitment to a patient-centered, holistic approach to healing. DOs are dedicated to providing quality, compassionate care that focuses on long-term well-being. Whether you're seeking treatment for an existing condition or looking to maintain your health, a DO can be an excellent choice for your medical needs.

In summary, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine is a uniquely qualified healthcare professional who combines traditional medical knowledge with a holistic philosophy, emphasizing the body's innate ability to heal itself and treating patients with a focus on the whole person. They are an integral part of the healthcare landscape, providing a comprehensive approach to medicine that values both the art and science of healing.

History of Osteopathic Medicine
Osteopathic medicine is a unique form of American medical care that was developed in 1874 by frontier doctor Andrew Taylor Still. Dr. Still was dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th century medicine. He believed that many of the medications of his day were useless or even harmful. Dr. Still was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health so that he could better understand the process of disease. Dr. Still founded a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body’s ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly and keeping fit.

Dr. Still pioneered the concept of "wellness" more than a century ago. In today’s terms, personal health risks – such as smoking, high blood pressure, excessive cholesterol levels, stress and other lifestyle factors – are evaluated for each individual. In coordination with appropriate medical treatment, the osteopathic physicians act as a teacher to help patients take more responsibility for their own well-being and change unhealthy patterns.

Just as Dr. Still pioneered osteopathic medicine on the Missouri frontier in 1874, today osteopathic physicians serve as modern day medical pioneers.
They continue the tradition of bringing healthcare to an array of settings and specialties.