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Search Health Information    Osteopathic Physician (DO)

Osteopathic Physician (DO)

Osteopathic physicians (also called doctors of osteopathic medicine, or DOs) are doctors who base diagnosis and treatment on the theory that the body's systems are interconnected. They combine disease prevention and health maintenance with conventional medicine. DOs often use a treatment called manipulation or manual medicine, which is a hands-on approach that may include massage or pressure on an area of the body.

DOs can prescribe medicine, order medical tests, and perform surgery. They serve as primary care providers, provide care in hospital settings, and may become certified in a specialty, such as anesthesiology, obstetrics and gynecology, or general surgery.

Osteopathic physicians complete osteopathic medical school, followed by an internship and residency program. Accreditation of colleges of osteopathic medicine is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Like doctors who have an MD (Medical Doctor) degree, DOs must pass a state medical board examination to obtain a license and enter practice. Each state board sets its own requirements and then issues the license for the osteopathic physician to practice in that state. All states require licensure for osteopathic physicians.

Last Revised: August 16, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

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