About DOs

DOs and MDs are the only physicians with unrestricted license to practice  the full spectrum of medicine and surgery in the United States. DOs (osteopathic physicians) and MDs (allopathic physicians) are both complete medical doctors with equivalent education, training, and practice rights. While osteopathy is a distinct branch of medicine, DOs complete the same medical and surgical training as MDs. DOs and MDs practice side by side in hospitals and clinics throughout the US.  Both DOs and MDs complete board certification exams in their chosen specialty.

The DO and MD degree are legal and professional equivalents.

Some notable DOs:

  • A DO is Chief of Space Medicine at NASA.
  • Terrie Taylor, DO, is a one of the foremost malaria researchers in the world.
  • Several DOs serve as team physicians for the NBA, NHL, and MLB teams across the US.
  • The former surgeon general of the U.S. Army is a DO.
  • Steven Pitt, DO, a forensic psychiatrist, has consulted on several major US cases that have headlined the news.
  • Joyce Johnson, DO, was surgeon general of the US Coast Guard.

Both DOs and MDs:

  • Complete 4 years of medical school
  • Complete residency training in the specialty of their choice (for example: cardiology, family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, etc)
  • Prescribe medications, deliver babies, admit patients to the hospital, order lab and radiology testing, and make referrals to other physicians

DOs specialize in all areas of traditional medicine, just like their MD colleagues. Approximately 60% of osteopathic physicians practice in primary care (family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology). DOs make up 7% of the entire physician population in the United States.

The only difference between DOs and MDs is that in addition to the standard medical school curriculum, DOs receive several hundred hours of training in hands on diagnosis and treatment of medical ailments. This additional training in hands on diagnosis and treatment gives DOs an extra “tool” in their medical toolbox, providing  a unique, practical advantage in preventing, diagnosing, and treating acute and chronic pain, illness/injuries, and many medical conditions. This hands on medicine is called osteopathic manipulative medicine (osteopathy).  To learn more about osteopathic manipulative medicine click here.

A very small percentage of DOs (or MDs who receive osteopathic training) choose osteopathic manipulative medicine as their specialty.  Dr. Lytle-Vieira is such a physician — her practice is 100% osteopathic manipulative medicine. She is board certified in osteopathic manipulative medicine/ neuromusculoskeletal medicine with additional board certification in integrative holistic medicine.

Notable institutions such as Harvard and the Mayo Clinic Health System recognize the unique benefits of osteopathy and offer osteopathic treatment services to patients and training in osteopathy to physicians.