DO vs. MD: Which one is better?

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Difference between DO and MD

Medical courses are said to be among the toughest courses offered in school today. It is also deemed as something that should not be taken lightly because what the professionals are dealing with here is human life where it requires no room for errors, unlike business majors and engineers which can make mistakes and do it all over again. There are a lot of types of doctors as well as their fields of expertise. One of the most popular and most chosen professions of doctors is to become a physician, particularly a DO or an MD degree. What are the differences and similarities of these two lines of work since they both hold a degree in medicine? Read below to find out.



The abbreviation DO is a physician’s doctoral degree which stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine in the United States. A doctor who has had a doctoral degree of this field is called an osteopathic physician. Osteopathic physicians undergo the same training and study as that of the MD (Doctor of Medicine). What differentiates the two is with the DO degree, they study osteopathic manipulative medicine methods. MD on the other hand stands for Doctor of Medicine, which came from the Latin word Medicinæ Doctor which means “Teacher of Medicine”. Medical schools are the ones responsible for producing these professionals, as well as the doctoral degree offered to physicians.


An osteopathic physician or a DO practices general medicine with an additional expertise on osteopathic medicine. These people are experts in curing or helping people battle the most common effects of aging and poor calcium intake – osteoporosis. The MD or the Doctor of Medicine on the other hand is focused on general medicine which means it encompasses everything which is not related to surgery. For most doctors, this degree is their stepping stone for a higher expertise because the first years of study or training of every medicinal course has already taken the study up.

Training and Exams

In America, the MD and the DO are exclusive degrees which permit the licensure to become medical physicians. Both the DO and the MD have the same training and these two courses require at least four years of study and training with regards to the clinical and basic sciences. These two courses also require the professional to pass a licensure exam in order for them to become public practitioners. With the DO, they must pass an examination called COMLEX and the MD must be a passer of USMLE. When it comes to training, a DO trains where an MD trains. The highlight of being a DO against an MD is that an additional expertise and training is offered to you called the Osteopathic Manual Manipulation.


  • A DO is called an osteopathic doctor, while an MD is basically known as a general medicine doctor.
  • A DO trains where the MD trains and completes the same number of years to finish the degree itself.
  • A DO is better because it they have additional expertise other than the general studies ones.

Which type of doctor do you prefer?
  • DO
  • MD

Discuss It: comments 22

This must be written by a DO. There are good and bad doctors with both types of degrees. One item to note is that most students get a DO because they can't get into an MD school.

I got accepted to both M.D. and D.O. and I chose to attend a D.O. medical school because of perspective. Am I not qualified because of my choice? In fact, most students made that choice for the same reason. Additionally, many M.D. school now have courses in "integrative medicine" blurring the difference. Both pass board exams and D.O.'s have an additional skill. The quality of the physician depends on the character. What are your credentials?

The differences in training, curriculum and practice of medicine is negligible. No one can say DO is better than MD or vice verse. In my opinion DO being a newer designation degree has few people understanding the reality and MD degree being universally known and acknowledged is therefore more readily accepted as being better while in reality it is not.

I am not a physician, but based on my experiences with both types of physicians, DOs offer something more that MDs do not usually provide; Osteopathic manipulation. This is not to mean that DOs are better, but all it means is that the patient now has more treatment options based on their individual needs.

To my understanding,it's true students that are not accepted into traditional medical school for MDs go to Osteopathic Schools to become DOs. It happened to three of my friends' kids. Actually,the admission requirement (GPA and MCAT results) are lower for Osteopathic Schools than that of Conventional Medical Schools.

I will be attending a DO school this summer. To blatantly state that a DO is better than a MD isn't a very smart thing to say. The degree should be a non-issue when choosing a doctor unless the patient specifically wants osteopathic manipulation, which not everyone prefers. It is true that DO schools are slightly easier to get into; however, this was much more true before 2010, and stats these days for both educational pathways are gradually becoming more or less the same.

  • Guest
  • Donna wrote on March 2015

I have both DO and MD in my PCP office. The MD seems more apt to not give any shots and refers me out too often but I like her decisions on meds. When I need an injection for anything, she says it is not in her area of expertise and I then make an appointment with the DO in the same office and get results. Once I knew this, I now just make my appointments accordingly. I started with the DO but he hasn't kept up with the current meds for HBP and if 10mg doesn't work and you have issues with it, swelling etc., his remedy was to increase dosage--not a good plan. Keep this in mind while studying, you will have more patients that way. Extra schooling in pediatrics and geriatric care will also be necessary for general PCP unless you decide to specialize in just one field. In my area, we are very short on Dermatologists. (Central Pa.)

My experience has been that a DO in a Primary care office will give steroid shots and manipulation to the joints for the elderly while an MD will refer you out to more specialists and PT and OT where there are more copays and higher copays depending on the insurance that you carry. While PT and OT is necessary at times, there are other times that if you get the pain taken away you become active on your own as long as you have exercise sheets to follow and will do it at home yourself.

I am truly confused. I got into both an MD med school and a DO med school. I like the DO phylosophy, but I don'pt

t want to make the wrong decision know how everyone keeps praising MDs. Any advise?

  • Guest
  • Guest wrote on March 2015

sorry for my typos. I meant to write I don't want to make the wrong decision. Your advise will be much appreciated.

I actually prefer a DO over an MD because they take a more holistic approach. I could not find a DO in my county 11 years ago but now there are many, including specialists in urology, orthopedics, etc. If you can find a DO school specializing in functional medicine, that would be even better.


ken ham knows what he in talking about

you are right

Took a little bit of offense to the notion that engineers can make mistakes and go right back to work, which is nonsense. We need to carry liability insurance similar to malpractice insurance. If we make a mistake, a bridge can fall down or a power plant can blow up.

Combine this with the author's notion that a DO is better than a MD and I think I'd have to avoid this guy's practice. His arrogance without knowledge is pretty disconcerting.

The bottom line is, a professional needs to be proficient in his or her trade...whether a DO, MD, or even an engineer. If not, their clientele could meet an unfavorable fate.

Amen! I guess it's part of the culture that sees MD holder as a God.

I had never met a DO before. We were out of town and had to take my son to an immediate care (doc-in-a-box) for stitches on his hand due to an accidental deep knife cut. After surface sterilization around the knife cut and then numbing the region, he spread open the wound and flushed the cut with a lot of sterile saline. He said that the best "solution to pollution (harmful bacteria) is dilution". He did not use any antibiotics or sterilizing agent in the wound. He said that the body has already started creating healing cells and they would be damaged. He put in 7 stitches. He said to keep the wound moistened and lubricated with petroleum jelly and keep it covered. That wound healed very quick and with no redness around the wound. I was very impressed with his technique.

Since this experience, I have cut myself with a sharp knife and have used contact lens sterile saline to flush it out before using CA glue and scotch tape to hold the wound together. I made sure the CA Glue did not get into the wound. It just held the tape to the skin on either side of the wound to pull the wound together. Healed quickly and with no redness.

Good doctor should be smart, if you pick somebody

With lower scores ( meat and GPA) means you picked

Some body is not as smart as a MD.

Faye: I was not aware that they had to take a "meat" test. Interesting.

  • Guest
  • LOL wrote on December 2020

beef, chicken, lamb, etc?

  • Guest
  • Joan wrote on December 2021

i like the do better than the md. md pushes so many meds. md is more arrogant and will not listen. pa's and np's are not trained enough to deal with serious cases. Some md's are snobs. medical people cover up their ignorance by acting like they know everything. medicine in US is sad.

  • Guest
  • Cheryl Conti wrote on January 2022

With all due respect; this is not true. Everything printed re education, years of study and degrees...printed right here for you to read.....please read.

C. Conti

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