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Your doctor: The difference between an M.D. and D.O.

If you see a primary care physician for your general healthcare, there’s a chance you’re seeing a D.O., not an M.D. While both degrees mean your doctor is a licensed physician, their training differs slightly and each has a unique perspective on care.

As Brian Krachman, D.O., an internal medicine specialist at Piedmont Physicians Group, explains, “A D.O. is an osteopathic physician, while an M.D. is a medical doctor, an allopathic physician.”

What is a D.O. doctor?

According to the American Osteopathic Association, doctors of osteopathic medicine regard the body as an integrated whole, rather than treating for specific symptoms only. Allopathic medicine, also referred to as “Western medicine,” treats disease symptoms using remedies such as drugs or surgery.

Physicians with a D.O. are licensed in all 50 states to practice medicine and surgery, as well as to prescribe medications. The education for both D.O. and M.D. degrees is similar, and both are required to complete accredited medical residencies.

D.O. physician specialties

Many D.O. programs emphasize primary care.

“Most D.O.s are in internal medicine, family practice, pediatrics, OB/GYN and general surgery,” says Dr. Krachman. “We spend a lot of time with people. The emphasis – which we call primary care now – is on people.”

Osteopathic medical school requirements

Osteopathic medical schools also require additional classes – between 300 and 500 hours – on the skeletal system and the interactions of the body with diseases.

How D.O.s approach patient care

Dr. Krachman says there may be slight personality differences between physicians with each degree, though patients should not see much of a difference in terms of medical care.

D.O.s often address medical conditions from both a medical and lifestyle perspective. They emphasize getting to know a patient’s lifestyle, family and unique concerns, which better informs their medical treatments.

D.O.s are trained to ask questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s lifestyle, which can impact their condition.

With chronic diseases like diabetes, it’s not only about the medication you’re taking, but “what are you are eating, who’s at home, how meals are prepared and who’s preparing the meals,” he says. “It’s a supplemental layer that provides you with more opportunity to get better patient care.”

Dr. Krachman practices at Piedmont Physicians Roswell Road IM, located at 4890 Roswell Road, Suite 250, Atlanta, GA 30342. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Krachman or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

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