osteopathic medicine, Uncategorized

MeDical doctor vs. DOctor of Osteopathic Medicine: DO your research

“An osteopath must know the shape and positions of every bone in the body, as well as that part to which every ligament and muscle is attached. He must know the blood and the nerve supply. He must comprehend the human system as an anatomist, and also from a physiological standpoint. He must understand the form of the body and the workings of it. That is a short way to tell what an osteopath must know.”  

{ A. T. Still  MD, DO }

Lifelong learning

First and foremost… let’s all remember one important thing… A doctor (allopathic or osteopathic) can save your life… BUT AN OT CAN HELP YOU LIVE IT and also advocate for your profession if you’re lucky. >>>NEXT POST IS ON OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY’S DOMAIN AND PROCESS !!!<<<


Neuro block vibes


Now I have to be honest; I did not know what osteopathic medicine was until my boyfriend started to consider applying to DO schools. Even now when I describe osteopathic medical school to my friends or peers, sometimes they hear the words “holistic” or “manipulative medicine” and instantly associate it with chiropractors or alternative medicine or Eastern medicine and  even say things like –> “so will he even be a ‘real’ doctor?” in which I bite my lip from saying something sarcastic like    “Are you in medical school?”    ***crickets (that individual pretty much immediately becomes quiet…)

  • When people say things like that I used to get pretty feisty -I sort of still get annoyed  but that is why I am using this blog to       actively advocate     and educate others in hopes they will be more receptive of both professions that are near to my heart and important to our growing society.

The fact of the matter is that osteopathic medicine is not a new philosophy or approach to medicine. My opinion as an occupational therapy student is that it’s time we get behind the DOctors that truly DO… (***especially if you are a PT, OT, or SLP student who will one day receive referrals from MDs and DOs and should therefore respect and probably learn about both types of physicians).

See my comparisons chart I created below of MDs and DOs to appreciate the similarities and differences of the only two types of licensed physicians in the U.S.

Screenshot (17)

Theodore Roosevelt once said…

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” So let’s take a look back in history to see where it all began.

MDs – History

  • Practice of medicine dates back to colonial times–aka there have been medical doctors in existence for a looooooooong time
  • 1766: New Jersey Medical Society-1st organization of medical professionals in the colonies
  • Early 1880s: Medical societies developed their own society based training programs called “proprietary” medical colleges
  • 1847: About 200 delegates from 40 societies, 28 colleges, and the District of Columbia met and formed the American Medical Association (AMA)
    • Elected president Nathaniel Chapman
    • AMA set higher education standards for MDS that were again revised in 1852
  • 18021876: 62  stable medical schools established
    • 1810: 650 students enrolled; 100 graduates
    • 1900: numbers rose to 25,000 students enrolled; 5,200 graduates- nearly all white males
  • Doctors began choosing to “specialize” in the mid 19th century
  • Check out more information about the history of MDs here!
  • Fast forward to 2016: More MDs choose to specialize than DOs (key word here is choose-there are a multitude of MD students who have passion for non-specialized practices and thank God they do because we need them!)


  • 1828: A baby boy by the name of A. T. Still who would grow up to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a doctor was born
  • Early 1860s: He became a doctor (MD) and went on to serve as a surgeon during the Civil War for the Union Army
  • 1864: His 3 children died from spinal meningitis. He concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were sometimes harmful and ineffective
    • Devoted the next 10 years of his life studying the musculoskeletal system and how it interacts with the other systems in hopes to find better ways to treat diseases and disorders
  • Prior to 1874: all allopathic based medical thinking
  • 1874: Dr. A. T. Still. believed that there was more to medicine than treating patients symptom by symptom
    • His research and clinical observations led him to believe that by correcting structural problems of the body, the body’s ability to heal could improve (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine-OMM coming in clutch)
  • 1892: Dr. A. T. Still ( MD and a DO – can you believe it ) opened the first osteopathic med school in Kirksville, MO
  • Read more about the beginnings of osteopathic medicine here.
    • Fast forward to 2016: single accreditation system for graduate medical education (more info on this below)


“Today DOs provide comprehensive medical care to patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and have unlimited practice rights in more than 65 countries. Currently, there are more than 74,000 DOs practicing in the United States in a wide range of medical specialties including surgery, anesthesiology, sports medicine, geriatrics, and emergency medicine.” {aacom.org}


Now you are asking yourself…  “soooo why have I never been to a doctor with the D.O. credentials?” the short answer-> more than likely you already have came into contact with a doctor of osteopathic medicine


    • 31 DO schools  <  141 MD schools
      • Naturally, there is going to be more MD students, residents, and practicing physicians


    • DO students  =   about 20% of U.S. medical students
      • YOU have a 1 in 5 chance that you have already been treated by a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
      • “In the 2015-16 academic year, colleges are educating over 26,100 future physicians–more than 20 percent of U.S. medical students.” aacom.org



    • Graduate Medical Education (residency)
    • Single Accreditation System
      • “In early 2014, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) approved an agreement to transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education (GME) by July 2020.”
      • Update as of January 25, 2016: 117 programs have submitted applications for ACGME accreditation
      • 95 programs are “pre-accreditation status” and “continued pre-accreditation status”; 11 programs have achieved “initial accreditation”
      • Click here to stay up to date on the MD DO merger

Prior to the merger…there were 2 separate accrediting bodies for Graduate Medical Education.

  1. ACGME –accrediting body for MD students

    • USMLE licensure exam
  2. AOA –accrediting body for DO students

    • COMLEX-USA licensure exam

Medical students could take the USMLE board exam  and go to an (allopathic) ACGME residency or they could take the COMPLEX-USA board exam and go to an (osteopathic) AOA residency. Because there were hundreds more ACGME residencies in different specialties that AOA didn’t have, many DO students also opted to take the USMLE in addition to their COMLEX exam so that they could apply to an ACGME residency.

Now that the merger is officially in progress (remember to click the link above for more info) between the ACGME and AOA, both licensing exams are accepted almost universally. However, this is a work in progress because there are still many ACGME residencies in highly specialized fields that still require the USMLE and haven’t yet accepted the COMLEX licensure scores. So although there has been some strides made in the path of recognizing the benefits of utilizing the merger, there is still some work to be done to fully implement it. Nevertheless, this is the step in the right direction in allowing our rising doctors of both backgrounds to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a residency offered by either philosophy in order to become the best physicians of their potential.

Finally, most importantly, for those of us who have not been called by the Lord to be physicians the best thing we can do in our active participation and support of the profession that serves our families and friends is simply to  —-> pray for them.         Pray for every pre-med student, medical student, resident, practicing physician, and retired physician to look always to Jesus, Our Savior, for guidance in serving others and remaining humble in that service. JESUS is the only one in this world who perfectly serves. His whole life, the way he dealt with the poor and especially the sick, the actions and acts of his simple generosity and his integrity all are apart of his perfect self-giving; this is why we must pray so that our future physicians (allopathic and osteopathic) can fulfill what they have been chosen to do in a manner that pleases God.


I want to close with a quote from Pope Francis in his Message for the XXIX World Youth Day in 2014 where he went to evangelize and speak encouragement to young adults.

“Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path. Simon Peter had the courage to reply: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ If you are able to say yes to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.”

-Pope Francis

Stay tuned for my next blog post–switching gears from osteopathic medicine to my first love –occupational therapy

Stay mOTivated,


Shannen Weyer, OTS


***note: I am simply trying to raise awareness about this profession. I am very thankful for my two orthopedic surgeons (who were both fantastic M.D.s) that have previously operated successfully on both of my not so pretty knees. I look forward to working with M.D.s and D.O.s in the future in order to carry out their occupational therapy referral orders***

10 thoughts on “MeDical doctor vs. DOctor of Osteopathic Medicine: DO your research”

  1. Just came acros your blog on Pinterest! I was looking for more support and love for DO’s and I found this! I thank God! I love how motivating and excited you are about you and your fiances journey! I will be starting osteopathic medical school soon, but I am surrounded by many many many friends who will be starting allopathic medical school. They subtly dis-DO as well. It’s the world that we live in, but that is why we need people like you and me (and others) who can advocate for DO (and OT)!! Thanks for your post and your passion. I can feel it through the screen!!

    Ps. WAR EAGLE!!! I graduated from Auburn in 2013 with my biomedical sciences degree! I remember when they were in the process of bringing VCOM to auburn and I met the man who was in charge of the entire process. You are so lucky to be in Auburn! I miss my second home! 🙂


    1. Auburn is literally the best!! I am thankful to be here and I get to pretend to be an undergrad haha for the next couple years til his residency. Ha just kidding but I do hang out in their library and bookstore and I love Coffee Cat!! Congrats to you for getting ready to continue your journey to become a DOctor! I am a bit defensive towards DO and OT because neither profession is advocated for enough nor are they understood for how awesome, important, and necessary they are. lol I get it really-to the world I am a PT until I explain how OT is similar but actually looks at the person in a wider lens! To the world “doctors” are MDs, but we both know DOs can be neurosurgeons, cardiologists, or family doctors just as much as MDs! Good luck and stay in touch!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s