What’s the Difference Between an MD and a DO?


When you’re looking for a healthcare professional, you may have noticed the initials MD and DO after the physician’s name. So how do these designations impact the medical training and role of your physician?

Doctors of Medicine (MD) and a Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) can be found in every type of specialty medicine. Both kinds of physicians are board-certified and licensed in all 50 states to practice medicine. Both attend four years of medical school, plus a three to seven year residency program. Both MD and DO physicians base diagnosis and treatment recommendations on scientifically-proven conclusions, as well as prescribe medication.

There are, however, differences in training and in philosophy of patient care. MDs practice a form of medicine called allopathic, which is a science-based practice focused on diagnosing a patient’s symptoms and treating medical conditions. MDs generally use prescription medication and/or surgical options as their main forms of treatment.

DOs practice osteopathic medicine, which takes a more wholistic approach to patient care. DOs are trained to consider the patient’s body systems, environment, nutrition, lifestyle, and other unique concerns to inform their patient of  potential medical treatment options. Disease prevention is a key part of a DOs practice. DOs also receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a hands-on method to promote healing.

Dr. Deborah Boland, D.O., MSPT, is a Neurologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and owner of Be Mobile Neurology. She said, “I believe that healthcare should consider the whole person and the environment. With my background as a licensed Physical Therapist, continuing my medical education as a DO made the most sense to me. I earned my medical degree from Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has a rich osteopathic history and is one of the oldest osteopathic medical schools in the country. My motivation with Be Mobile Neurology is to spend more time with my patients, to provide better care, and to increase overall quality of life. I believe that a comfortable setting can help improve management of specific neurologic needs and concerns, and I am committed to bringing compassionate, wholistic treatment to patients throughout the Tampa Bay region.”

If you are looking for a whole-body approach to wellness and disease prevention, a DO like Dr. Boland may be a good fit for you. If you are struggling with a physical impairment, the musculoskeletal focus of a DO’s training also may be a benefit to you. If you are interested in learning more about Be Mobile Neurology or to schedule an appointment, call (813) 981-4403, email info@bemobileneurology.com, or visit us online.