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What are the main differences between an MD and a DO?

Hi, I am currently a junior in high school. I don't usually see people talking about DOs.
I just came to know that DOs focus more on holistic care than MDs. I am also exploring BS/MD and BS/DO programs, so I would like to know the real differences between them.

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Candice’s Answer

A MD is a Medical Doctor.

A DO is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

It is really a matter of which you are more interested in. If you have a specific interest in the study of body structure, muscles, tissues, bones, balance, or treating mechanical pain, then the less common DO route might be right for you.


- They both have to complete residency in a clinical setting and can prescribe medications in all 50 US states.

- Both can perform surgery.

- For both programs you would still have the same general medical school prerequisites including courses in biology, chemistry, physics, labs, and clinical experience.

- Public and private tuition rates for both professions are similar.


- There are far more career opportunities with an MD than there are with a DO, though they often do the same job in many settings.

- There are more schools that offer MD programs as opposed to DO programs.

- Training and education to become a Medical Doctor focuses more on allopathic medicine. You will learn how to treat conditions commonly using medications, radiation, or surgery.

- You are correct, DO training and education encompasses more areas of holistic medicine. Holistic medicine does include the biology of health and use of medication, but usually looks for alternative methods for things like surgery by examining wellness as a whole. They give more attention to behaviors that influence lifestyle, stress level, diet, and sleep habits.

- MD programs are often more difficult to get into than DO programs.

- DO's have to complete additional training in Manipulative Medicine.

- In order to get licensed MDs must pass the USMLE exam. DOs have to pass the USMLE and the COMLEX-USA exam.
Thank you comment icon Loved reading this, thanks! Meghana