eli5 What is the difference between an osteopath and an MD?


eli5 What is the difference between an osteopath and an MD?

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DO and MD are similar programs, though DOs are required to spend a certain amount of time studying osteopathy in med school while MDs are not. DOs and MDs both still need to do residency after med school, and really it’s residency where doctors learn their trade. Med school is just prerequisites, and most DOs don’t go on to actually do any osteopathy. So after residency, they’re functionally the same.

(Also, generally, MD programs have been hard to get into and DO programs a little easier.)

My understanding is osteopaths tend to focus on more lifestyle and holistic interventions while MDs are more into the diagnosis and treatment through medicinal interventions.

An MD is a real doctor; an osteopath (or “DO”) is not. But of course, like espousers of Chinese Traditional ‘Medicine’, the osteopaths have formed associations and mounted propaganda/P.R./marketing campaigns to sort of launder their pseudoscience and give it a false sense of respectability. They have been rather more successful in that ruse in the United States than in other First-World countries. You can read more about it in articles like [this one](https://12ft.io/proxy?q=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fsciencebiz%2F2010%2F10%2F27%2Fosteopaths-versus-doctors%2F%3Fsh%3D68bfa8581033) and [this one](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteopathy).

In the United States, a DO is the same thing as an MD. Both are medical doctors/physicians. But the admission into DO medical schools is easier than MD medical schools. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, it’s just easier than MD.

My DO medical school had 7,800 applicants for 270 seats. MD has like 14,000-20,000 applicants for 140-200 seats. They are equal in practice to MDs, but the admission is easier. If they were not equal, they wouldn’t have merged the residencies in 2020.

Outside of US, I’ve heard DOs are basically a joke. I don’t know much about it outside, but in the US, DO medical students don’t really believe in the osteopathic curriculum, it’s just a more realistic pathway towards becoming a medical doctor in the US.