Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO) is a professional doctoral degree for physicians and surgeons offered by medical schools in the United States. A D.O. degree graduate may become licensed as an osteopathic physician, having equivalent rights, privileges, and responsibilities as a physician who has earned the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. D.O. physicians are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine and surgery in sixty five countries, and all fifty states in the US. D.O. physicians constitute seven percent of all U.S. physicians. In 2015, there were more than 96,000 osteopathic medical physicians in the United States.
One hundred forty-one medical schools offer the M.D. degree in the United States. Thirty-one medical schools offer the D.O. degree at forty-five locations in thirty states. Since 2007, total D.O. student enrollment has been increasing yearly. In 2015, more than twenty percent of all medical school enrollment in the United States comprised D.O. students. The curricula at osteopathic medical schools are similar to those at M.D.-granting medical schools, which focus the first two years on the biomedical and clinical sciences, then two years on core clinical training in the clinical specialties.
Upon completing medical school, a D.O. graduate may enter an internship or residency training program, which may be followed by fellowship training. Some D.O. graduates attend the same graduate medical education programs as their M.D. counterparts, and then take M.D. specialty board exams, while other D.O. graduates enter osteopathic programs, and take D.O. specialty board examinations.
One notable difference between D.O. and M.D. training is that D.O. training adds 300 – 500 hours studying techniques for hands-on manipulation of the human musculoskeletal system.
Osteopathic medical school curricula are virtually identical to those at schools granting the M.D. degree (Doctor of Medicine). Once admitted to an osteopathic medical school, it takes four years to graduate, and the schooling is divided into the pre-clinical and clinical years. The pre-clinical years, the first and second years, focus on the biomedical and clinical sciences. The clinical years, the third and fourth years, consist of core clinical training and sub-internships in the clinical specialties. Osteopathic medical school accreditation standards require training in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family practice, surgery, psychiatry, emergency medicine, radiology, preventive medicine and public health. According to Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, "the training, practice, credentialing, licensure, and reimbursement of osteopathic physicians is virtually indistinguishable from those of physicians with M.D. qualifications, with 4 years of osteopathic medical school followed by specialty and subspecialty training and board certification."