What is an Osteopathic Physician?

Physician Types

Two types of fully licensed physicians are recognized in the United States: D.O.s (osteopathic) and M.D.s (allopathic). Both D.O.s and M.D.s can practice medicine in fully accredited and licensed hospitals and medical centers.



Education: Both attend four-year accredited medical schools and have similar clinical training and national and state licensing examinations.

Specialties: Both may be primary care practitioners (e.g., family practice, pediatrics) or specialists (e.g., surgery, cardiology).

Licensing: Both are fully licensed to prescribe medications and perform surgery


Education: Osteopathic medical education places a strong emphasis on primary medical care. Osteopathic physicians are trained to be complete physicians first, then as specialists if they choose.

Diagnosis: Osteopathic physicians receive specialized training about the musculoskeletal system, an additional 500 hours, which provides them a better understanding of how injuries and illnesses affect different regions of the body. This "whole-body" view allows D.O.s to take an integrative approach to medical care while still following guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians regarding healthcare and immunizations.

Emphasis: Osteopathic physicians are taught to emphasize prevention of injury or illness in addition to treating existing medical problems.

Learn more information at American Osteopathic Associationand the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association