I’m glad you asked! There are two types of accredited doctors that can practice medical care in the U.S. And their similarities are far greater than their differences. Let’s start by breaking down the definitions:
- An MD is a doctor who practices allopathic medicine – or an approach based on using medication and surgery to manage and treat different conditions
- A DO or Doctor of Osteopathic medicine – like myself – practices an osteopathic approach to care which focuses on the whole body and preventive care
The main difference? Their philosophy of care – and that’s pretty much where the differences end.
Both DOs and MDs complete rigorous training and study along similar path.
This training includes a 4-year undergraduate program with pre-medical requirements, followed by another 4 years at a Nationally Accredited Medical University. I received my B.S. in Biology at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. I then went on to medical school in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.
BUT… DOs do have an extra 200 or more hours of hands-on study in the musculoskeletal system, which includes weekly labs to understand the anatomy of the body, as well as skills that incorporate physical therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic therapy for treatment. While studying all the different systems of the body such as the pulmonary, skeletal and neurological, I had an opportunity to examine the individual ribs involved in the respiratory system, felt every vertebra and related muscles in the musculoskeletal system, and learned some craniosacral techniques for headaches right along with all the neural pathways.
Both DOs and MDs can pursue any specialty they choose.
When I started medical school, I thought I wanted to go into the field of Neurology. However, I soon realized I didn’t want to limit myself to just one area. Enter Family Medicine, as this would allow me to develop relationships with patients and manage the whole-body approach.
Both DOs and MDs complete multi-step nationally accredited licensing exams to obtain a medical degree: I took the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) Steps 1 and 2 required for MDs as well as the COMLEX (from the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners) exams prior to graduating.
Both DOs and MDs complete a Residency program in the specialty of their choice. MDs train at a nationally accredited allopathic residency program, while DOs have a choice of training at an allopathic or an osteopathic program. I completed my residency training in Family Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center (now Atrium Health). I chose this location because I was impressed with the program, but also wanted to get closer to home. I was born in High Point, North Carolina, and have family throughout North Carolina.
Both DOs and MDs attain Board Certification with the state medical specialty boards. I’ve had my NC medical license since 2008 and am Board Certified in Family Medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM).
Both DOs and MDs can prescribe medications to patients when appropriate. I’m certified with the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, so I’m authorized to purchase medications at cost and pass those savings onto my patients by dispensing prescriptions in the office. Even with insurance coverage and GoodRx coupons, the savings associated with dispensing medications in-office can be huge.
So now you know – and now you can make the best choice for you and your family. I believe I offer my patients the very best care because I’ve had the best of both worlds: extensive training through medical school at an Osteopathic medical school and continued training in residency at an allopathic residency program. I would love to welcome you to my practice and show you a more personalized approach to care.