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Osteopathic medicine: What kind of doctor is a D.O.?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 29, 2022.

A doctor of osteopathic medicine, also known as a D.O., is a fully trained and licensed doctor. A doctor of osteopathic medicine graduates from a U.S. osteopathic medical school. A doctor of medicine, also known as an M.D., graduates from a traditional medical school.

A major difference between D.O.s and M.D.s is that some doctors of osteopathic medicine use manual medicine as part of treatment. Manual medicine can include hands-on work on joints and tissues and massage.

After medical school, both kinds of doctors must complete training as residents in the specialty they choose. They also must pass the same licensing exam before they can treat people and prescribe medicines.

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