What is a D.O.?

April 22, 2010 —

Happy Osteopathic Medicine Week!

Did you know there are two types of doctors in the United States? A doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) and a medical doctor (M.D.). Most people don’t know if their primary care physician is a D.O. or an M.D. Both doctors can prescribe medicine, perform surgery and treat patients, but there are some differences between the two.

Students at Des Moines University study to become D.O.s. That means our students take the same classes as students at an M.D. school plus courses in osteopathic manual medicine (OMM). Osteopathic medicine also tends to be taught as more of a holistic way of treating people – focusing on a whole person, not just one symptom or syndrome.

Here are some quick facts about osteopathic medicine:

  • It was founded by A.T. Still more than 130 years ago
  • D.O.s focus on the whole person to treat, prevent and diagnose injury, disease and illness
  • D.O.s receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system – your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of its body mass. This helps them understand how how an injury or illness in one area can affect the rest of your body.
  • Osteopathic manual medicine (OMM) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMM, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health.

Want to experience OMMT for yourself? DMU is hosting community OMM night May 13, 6-9 p.m., in the Student Education Center. Students will provide free treatments and be available to answer questions.

To learn more about osteopathic medicine check out American Osteopathic Association website.

Want to find a D.O. in your city? Check the AOA database or call: 866-346-3236.


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    Thanks for the updates.Well i wasn’t aware of it.Gained a wholesome knowledge on Osteopathic medicine.This is a great opportunity provided by DMU.Thanks for the link too.In fact i would definitely like to learn more about it.Look forward to hearing from you soon again.

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    i would definitely like to learn more about it.Look forward to hearing from you soon again.

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    I always wondered what a doctor of osteopathic medicine really did. great informative post. you learn something new everyday