There is often confusion when differentiating between a physician with a medical degree (MD) and a physician with a doctorate in osteopathic medicine (DO). MDs and DOs are similarly educated and certified, but there are differences in their training and philosophy of patient care. You will find that most MDs practice allopathic medicine, a more traditional medicine based on diagnosis and treatment of specific diseases where a DO approaches the “whole person” to reach a diagnosis rather than treating symptoms. In addition, DOs are trained in osteopathic manipulation treatment (OMT), the therapeutic application of manual techniques to address the changes in body structure to improve physiologic function. As a DO, Dr. Freeman believes in tapping into the innate healing properties we all have by using internal and external methods of healing.
Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
DOs are trained to look at the whole person from their first days of medical school, which means they see each person as more than just a collection of organ systems and body parts that may become injured or diseased. This holistic approach to patient care means that osteopathic medical students learn how to integrate the patient into the health care process as a partner. They are trained to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, and they get the opportunity to practice these skills in their classrooms and learning laboratories, frequently with standardized and simulated patients.
The osteopathic medical profession has a proud heritage of producing primary care practitioners. In fact, the mission statements of the majority of osteopathic medical schools state plainly that their purpose is the production of primary care physicians. Osteopathic medical tradition preaches that a strong foundation in primary care makes one a better physician, regardless of what specialty they may eventually practice.
For more information, please visit the American Osteopathic Association’s website.