MD or DO?

As a patient, I have always seen physicians with the initials “MD” after their names. Once, on an unplanned visit to the university health services, I noticed that the doctor on call had “DO” listed after her name. Some unexamined prejudice made me hesitate, but I was sick and happy to get care. In the end, she gave me exemplary care, and I could not have distinguished her training from another physician’s.

There are 26 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States. In the current admissions cycle, every single one has registered increases in applications. A total of  13,500 students are seeking to attend an osteopathic medical school. This still does not match the 42,742 applicants applying to an allopathic medical school, but it shows that the future physician work force will comprise both kinds of doctors.

The osteopathic colleges’ national organization makes the case that DO graduates are more likely to go into primary care, helping meet the need for internists in the country. The faculty list in the Department of Medicine at BU contains no names with the DO degree, though I have met one DO in another department. It would be helpful to know more about the characteristics of osteopathic college graduates and if recruiting among them could help meet our goals for clinical, scientific, and educational excellence.


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