A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

What's the difference between an osteopath and an MD?

February 3, 2000

Dear Straight Dope:

What exactly is the differnece between a doctor of osteopathy (DO) and a medical doctor (MD)? My friend who is a nurse says basically a DO is like a chiropractor and an MD combined. Does one have more or better schooling and do MD's practice at osteopathic hospitals? Give me the scoop.

SDSTAFF WB replies:

The difference between a DO and an MD is more a matter of philosophy than training, although D.O.s do receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system. Other than that, according to the Osteopathic Pre-Med FAQ (located at Osteopathic.com), DOs and MDs get the same schooling. DOs can do anything an MD can do (prescribe medication, perform surgery, leer at nurses, etc.), and are considered equal by the law. This only applies to American DOs. Non-North American DOs adhere more strongly to the philosophies set down by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, the founder of osteopathic medicine (which, by the way, translates to "bone suffering") — they do NOT prescribe medicines or perform surgery, and are limited to "osteopathic manipulation," which is similar to chiropractic. As for whether MDs practice at osteopathic hospitals, the FAQ has this to say on the subject, "MDs and DOs work together as colleagues and neither are barred from each other's institutions." But if I were you, I'd call and ask.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Staff Reports are written by the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board, Cecil's online auxiliary. Though the SDSAB does its best, these columns are edited by Ed Zotti, not Cecil, so accuracywise you'd better keep your fingers crossed.

Recent Additions:

A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Mac, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Dogster, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Ian, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Ian, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Classic by Cecil Adams
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Ian, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
A Straight Dope Staff Report by SDStaff Melis, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope! Your direct line to thou- sands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope? Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.