Osteopaths vs. Alleopaths

One thing I’ve noticed is that as med school becomes harder and harder to get into…more people I’ve met seem to be going to osteopathy school.

However, every one of them I’ve talked to refers to it as “medical school”-generally I don’t find out about the osteopathy part till later.

So what’s the straight dope on osteopaths? Do they have to do residencies? Rotations? My sister and my cousins (all of whom are alleopaths) made dubious noises. Generally I’m not super-skeptical of alternative remedies blahblah (yoga, for instance, curbs my depression) but I trust my relatives, especially my sister, who actually tends to be pretty open-minded.

Have you ever seen an osteopath? Would you?

For my part, I doubt I would.

They say they are in medical school because they are. We have done this one a bunch of times. There are at least two types of medical doctors: MD and DO.

They main differences are that DO’s are trained to treat the whole patient instead of looking at people as a series of parts like science sometimes encourages. In reality, a given DO and MD may be exactly the same.

In practice, they may not be different at all from MD’s and the training is roughly equivalent. There are some DO’s that go off the deep end of the quack pool but some MD’s do as well.

I think you may be confusing the term with something else.

No, I am not. I am asking a question about osteopathy. I don’t feel the need to run a search every single time I post, which isn’t all that much. However, thanks for alerting me to the fact that there have been previous threads, I’ll go look them up.

The osteopaths I’ve met all tried to get into medical school first and then went to osteopathy school. This is a big hump I can’t seem to get over-it’s not like I’ve ever met someone who said “Oh, I turned down Northwestern and Johns Hopkins so I could go to osteopath school!”

So does that mean they have specialities like dermatology or PMNR or whatnot? Or are they all GPs?

FWIW, here in Missouri, osteopaths have to do all the same things MD’s do to receive a license, and have the same status under the law (they can write prescriptions, perform surgery, etc.)

There’s at least one hospital around here that has both DO and MD on staff.

However, osteopathic studies differ in other countries, and that training (and what osteopaths are licensed to do) may not be on a par with allelopathic medicine.

You are taking exception to what I said but I have to assume you are offended because of your current misconception. Osteopaths are doctors, they did go to medical school, and they are referred to as physicians. Your terms sound a little offensive even though I don’t have any personal attachment to the subject. They practice in traditional specialties as well.

I can believe that going to an osteopathic medical school is a second choice for many students but it isn’t that dumb because they are going to end up at the same place as their MD brethren. Some of it sounds a little hokey to me as well but many students are just going to take what they want from it and end up being a physician like they always wanted.

In the US, MD’s and DO’s are legally equivalent. My understanding is that osteopaths in the UK are more along the lines of chiropractors. I think that in the us they prefer to be referred to as “osteopathic physicians” to emphasize their practice of conventional (Western) medicine.

The main difference in their training is during the preclinical years, when the DO students recieve training in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, which I belive is similar in many aspects to chiropractic. After medical school, apparently very few US DOs incorporate OMM in their practice.

Medical school and osteopathic school are both four years. DO students are eligible to take the USMLE, the allopathic licensing exam, as well as having their own test, the COMLEX. Some take both, some only take the COMLEX. I believe all 50 states accept either tests for the purposes of granting medical licenses to DOs.

Residency is similar. Some DOs go through the same residencies as MDs, and some go through the separate DO residency system.

These days, the main difference between MD and DO students is their attractiveness as applicants. DO schools tend to be less competitive for admission. The average DO school tends to have an average MCAT score of their class that is about 5 points lower than the average MD school, and the average GPA is also lower. Many less competitive applicants apply to both MD and DO schools. Students who apply to DO schools because they believe in osteopathic theory seem to be in the minority.

I am an MD student, and I have no problem with DO students referring to themselves as medical students. We’re both going to be doctors. There are a number of DOs who are faculty at the school I attend. Several have lectured to my class, and I can tell no difference in their knowledge vs our MD lecturers.

I have also worked with some of the DOs on faculty in different volunteer positions, and all that I have met are excellent physicians. For a physician for myself, I would consider the physician themself and not really consider their degree. I do not think which medical school they were able to get into based on a single test grade predicts what kind of a physician they will be.

Quackwatch gives an overview of the history and theory of osteopathy in the US, as well as examining some of its more dubious aspects, the practice of which seems to be decreasing.

I don’t particularly take offense to anything off this board. Telling someone they are thinking of something else, however, is pretty condescending, but so are most people on this board.

And I actually read through the old threads you referenced (about 4), as well as some online articles, and it seems to me that they are pretty much the same though I doubt you are going to find D.O.s in some of the more obscure alleopath sub-specialties. I wonder why they don’t just merge the schools-because it seems like most of them are internal and gp type doctors.

Thanks for your input Shagnasty and kunilou

Thanks for your detailed response. I think I read a post of yours in the older threads Shagnasty referred to. I have to agree with your statement-my whole family is healthy as oxes but the one thing we are all very prone to is allergic reactions/dermatological issues (no, I am not a scarred beast, you wouldn’t be able to tell). For a while my sister and I seemed to be hiving out at everything and my parents, in desperation, got a referral to a very famous Harvard dermatologist who was supposed to be a whiz at all this stuff.

I hated that man. He was rude, belligerent and made both of us very uncomfortable. He also told us that nothing would ever make the issue go away.

I switched back to our old dermatologist (also from a very posh school, though not Haah-vud), who didn’t go to Haaa-vud, but unlike Rude Harvard Doctor, I actually liked her and she made me feel like we would work on the issue. She cleared it up.

My sister left Rude Harvard Doctor for the same reason, and went back to our old derm. Who cleared up her issues.

So consider my ignorance fought. I do have a really nice MD right now, though…so I am not looking to switch over, though I may keep D.O.s in mind later on if I move again.

I agree about not often hearing about people turning down prestigious allopathic schools to go to an osteopathic school. The only reason I could think of for an applicant doing that is that they have a compelling reason to stay in the area where the osteopathic school is located.

I think that students who go to a DO school can be thought of in two categories. The first are those who strongly believe in osteopathic theory. They might be extremely strong applicants, but do not apply to MD schools. The other is those who do not really care about MD vs. DO but just want to be a doctor. They apply to both MD and DO schools. If they get into only DO schools they go to one of them, but if they get into an allopathic school most choose to go there. They do this because it tends to be the past of least resistance. Sentiment against DOs seems to be decreasing, but it does still exists. It is also easier to get a better residency coming from an allopathic school, if all other factors are equal.

In terms of specialization, DO schools have historically been focused on producing primary care physicians–family practitioners, general internists, general pediatricians. However, more DOs are going into more specialized practice. They either go through the MD residency system as I mentioned earlier, or the DO residency system has training for pretty much any specialty that the MD system does–there are DO training programs for cardiology, urology, etc.

I work with two DOs. Because there is chiropractic training in the background of their specialty, they tend to have stronger training in musculoskeletal problems than I do (I’m an MD). They know faster what to do when you have odd aches and pains that don’t come from the viscera.

This may be personal to them and to me – both of them read hard and have a zest for the discipline, but neither seems quite as expert on the rare or tougher scientific crannies of medicine as I am.