DO vs MD
The healthcare industry is one of the largest job sectors in the US. Last year, the US added around 49,000 healthcare jobs each month. Clearly, the medical field is ever-growing with many different careers and pathways to choose from. It can get confusing navigating through the numerous options this field provides and finding the right one can be a daunting task. With the growing number of careers, there are also a growing number of ways to get there. For instance, there are multiple ways to get to become a said “doctor.” Some of the most common paths to get there are the DO and MD Programs. DO stands for the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine; whereas, MD stands for Medical Doctor. Both pathways require hard work and extensive dedication for completion. In addition to that the DO and the MD pathway both require the completion of a type of medical school. This is then followed by specialty training in a residency program. Furthermore, prior to treating patients and prescribing medicine, they both have to pass a licensing exam. When examining salary, both have an average annual income of 200,696 as of 2023. With all these similarities there are also distinct differences between pursuing a DO pathway versus an MD pathway. These can be notable in helping to decide which one is the best fit.
An MD or Doctor of Medicine uses allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is a type of medicine that uses medication, surgery, and many other types of interventions in order to treat illnesses. The pathway to becoming a doctor in the MD program starts off with 4 years of undergraduate training which is then followed by 4 years in a medical school and then around 3 to 7 years in residency. Prior to admission into medical school, the MCAT must be taken. Admission into medical school will be based on this score along with GPA. Often MD programs will require a mildly higher average of the scores than DO programs. Students are also often required to shadow an MD physician prior to application into medical school and complete the pre-requisite course. These courses often consist of chemistry, math, biology, and physics. When applying to medical schools, it may be important to consider that a larger number of schools offer MD programs as opposed to DO programs. After admission into medical school, it is about a 4 years commitment where there is laboratory study and classroom study for the first two years and clinical rotations during the latter two. After completion of medical school, the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) must be taken and passed followed by residency and specialty. Another difference between an MD and a DO is that an MD doctor is capable of working internationally. Overall, an MD degree is often looked at as more respectable when compared to a DO. However, this does not mean that either of them is better or worse as they are both equally rewarding.
A DO or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine uses osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic medicine focuses on the relation between the mind and the body to treat a person. It focuses on the improvement of wellness through education and prevention information. The pathway to becoming a doctor in the DO programs also starts off with 4 years of undergraduate training which is then followed by 4 years in a medical school and then around 3 to 8 years in residency. Again, like the MD program, admission into medical school will be based on the students' MCAT score along with their GPA. Shadowing a DO physician for at least 20 hours is also often required along with pre-requisite courses which are similar to the ones required by an MD program. The 4 years in medical school also have laboratory study and classroom study for the first two years and clinical rotations during the latter two. The difference is that the DO program requires an additional 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic manipulative medicine is the study of the connection between the body systems and has techniques to improve the function of the body as a whole. After completion of medical school, the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMPLEX) must be taken and passed. DO students can also choose to take the US Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). However, both are often structured similarly. They commonly have three levels that assess the knowledge of the student. The first level will check knowledge of key concepts in medicine, the second level will see how well the student can apply that knowledge, and the third level will evaluate the student’s preparedness to provide medical care by themselves. This is then followed by residency and specialty as well. Many DOs will go into specialties like family medicine. Finally, DOs unlike MDs cannot work internationally. Overall, this is a reputable and growing pathway to becoming a doctor and is just as rewarding as an MD pathway.
Ultimately, choosing between pursuing an MD or DO pathway is a matter of personal preference. Some of the differences present between the two pathways can help make this decision easier. Both pathways are highly reputable and have a positive job outlook with many specialization opportunities available.