What is a college of osteopathic medicine?
The United States Department of Education recognizes two schools of medicine to train physicians to provide healthcare to the public, i.e. colleges of osteopathic medicine leading to a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree (DO) and colleges of medicine leading to doctor of medicine degree (M.D.). Both types of schools develop physicians by offering four years of undergraduate medical training, followed by three to seven years of postdoctoral medical education (residency and fellowship training). Both DOs and M.D.s must pass examinations that qualify them for unrestricted licenses to practice medicine in any specialty-from general practice to brain surgery.
What is the difference between a DO and an M.D.?
A simple sports analogy might help answer this question. Prior to 1969, there used to be two professional football leagues, the AFL and the NFL. Both leagues played football, but there were certain stylistic differences. AFL coaches emphasized a passing offense and also introduced innovations such as the 2-point conversion. The NFL emphasized a hard-hitting defense and favored running plays on offense.
The difference between M.D.s and DOs is just a difference in philosophy; both are correct but emphasize different approaches to medicine. DOs tend to go into primary care and assess a patient's physical symptoms in context with their mental and spiritual (emotional) condition. M.D.s tend to specialize in a particular form of medicine and focus more specifically on individual symptoms in their diagnosis.
More information is available on the American Osteopathic Association web site.