Physician Types

Two types of fully licensed physicians are recognized in the United States: D.O.s (osteopathic) and M.D.s (allopathic). Both D.O.s and M.D.s can practice medicine in fully accredited and licensed hospitals and medical centers.

Osteopathic Physician


Education: Both attend four-year accredited medical schools and have similar clinical training and national and state licensing examinations.

Specialties: Both may be primary care practitioners (e.g., family practice, pediatrics) or specialists (e.g., surgery, cardiology).

Licensing: Both are fully licensed to prescribe medications and perform surgery


Education: Osteopathic medical education places a strong emphasis on primary medical care. Osteopathic physicians are trained to be complete physicians first, then as specialists if they choose.

Diagnosis: Osteopathic physicians receive specialized training about the musculoskeletal system, an additional 500 hours, which provides them a better understanding of how injuries and illnesses affect different regions of the body. This "whole-body" view allows D.O.s to take an integrative approach to medical care while still following guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians regarding healthcare and immunizations.

Emphasis: Osteopathic physicians are taught to emphasize prevention of injury or illness in addition to treating existing medical problems.

Learn more information at American Osteopathic Association and the Texas Osteopathic Medical Association