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What are some good qualities to have as a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine)?

I am considering becoming a D.O., and I would like to know if I am a good fit for the career. I am well-suited academically, but I would like to make sure I am suited personality-wise. DO careers medicine osteopathic

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Kim’s Answer

Hi Kaitlin! For many years, I saw a primary care doctor who was a D.O. Initially, she was a very good doctor. But, over time, that changed. Why? Because even though she was a very warm person, it got to be where she somehow thought we were "friends." She was not happy in her marriage, and she would spend lots of time during the appointment talking about it, and very little time listening to what was going on with ME, even though I was paying to be there! I tried establishing communication outside of the appointments, but, she was not interested in chit-chatting any other time. I had to drop her.

Anyway, from watching her, I observed her weaknesses. First, was poor time management skills. You have to be able to move from one patient to the next, and not get drawn into long discussions. But, you don't want to be as rushed as MD's. So maybe book 4 patients an hour instead of six, but stay on schedule. Next, you have to be flexible. If someone tells you, at the end of the appointment, that they are all depressed and not so sure life is worth living, you don't schedule a follow up, you have to see it through right then and there! You also need real good business sense, or a good office manager, if you have your own practice. You need to be firm on billing, yet able to negotiate every now and then. You have to stay current in laws affecting your practice, and in medicine itself. It helps to be into alternative medicines - acupuncture, supplements, etc, as the patients are likely to want to try to incorporate some of it. You MUST be open to patients questioning your decisions. Today's patients are internet-educated. Some read the good stuff, but some read some pretty crazy stuff. But, they will ask. . . .

Generally speaking, from years of experience as a patient, please, please, please. . . if a patient comes in complaining that "something ain't right" but they aren't really able to articulate it, please do not blow them off!!! One of the strangest things I ever saw. . . a guy wanted paramedics, he claimed he thought he was having a heart attack. So we went through the whole list of typical symptoms, and he did not have any of them. He did not have any other symptoms either. So, we asked what made him so sure he was having a heart attack? He said he felt the same way the last time he had a heart attack. Yes, he was right. True story.

Anyway, thanks for wanting to be a D.O. They are really cool!

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Ana’s Answer

Such a smart question. I believe you will need to demonstrate a very high level of empathy towards your patients. Also, curiosity to further study different cases and possibly find some answers that will help others. Bed side manners seem to have vanished throughout the years and that really goes a long way for any patient.