Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
It’s easy to recognize doctors just by reading their nametags. After all, they have the letters MD (for doctor of medicine) after their last names, right?
But what if you see the letters DO? You might be surprised to learn that DO is an abbreviation for another type of physician: a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or osteopathic physician.
What’s a DO?
According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), osteopathic medicine is a complete system of health care with a philosophy that combines the needs of the patient with the current practice of medicine. Doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) practice a whole-person approach, which means they consider both the physical and mental needs of their patients. DOs strive to help patients be truly healthy in mind and body — not just free of symptoms.
This “holistic” approach to health care was developed by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, who feared that 19th-century medicine was doing more harm than good. Disgusted at the ineffectiveness of fellow practitioners during the Civil War, he decided to focus on the body’s ability to heal itself and began to stress preventive medicine. He also identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health, stressing that muscles, nerves, bones, and organs are all interrelated. In 1892, Dr. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri.
A key part of osteopathic medicine is a technique called OMT, or osteopathic manipulative treatment. In OMT, physicians use their hands as a primary tool to diagnose and treat illness and injury. This form of manual medicine lets DOs examine the back and other parts of the body (such as joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles) for pain and restriction during motion that could signal an injury or impaired function.
Although they sometimes focus on the back, these physicians are not chiropractors. OMT is a treatment very specific to how and where people injure themselves and how that injury can lead to symptoms.
Only two types of medical doctors are recognized in the United States: MDs and DOs. Both are licensed by state and specialty boards to practice medicine, perform surgery, and write prescriptions. Applicants to both DO and MD colleges usually have a 4-year undergraduate degree with an emphasis on science courses, and both complete 4 years of basic medical education.
Whether you opt for a DO or an MD, both are good choices when it comes to your child’s health.
In fact, both DOs and MDs:
About 96,000 osteopathic physicians now practice in the United States. Because osteopathic schools emphasize primary care training, more than half of all DOs practice in areas such as pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and internal medicine.
You can find DOs through the American Osteopathic Association, or through local osteopathic hospitals and state osteopathic medical associations. And many MDs and DOs practice together as members of the same group.
What are nurse practitioners, and how do they differ from medical doctors?
When you go to the doctor for a checkup, it’s because your parents and your doctor want to see that you’re growing just the way you should. Read all about what happens at the doctor’s office.
Parents are likely to be stressed when a child is hospitalized, and questions about the people providing medical care and what roles they play can add to the confusion. Our guide can help.
Along with considering baby names andÂ buying a crib, choosing the right health care provider should be on your to-do list when you’re expecting.
Building a relationship with your child’s doctor requires communication and reasonable expectations.
Find out what the experts have to say.
When kids know they’re “going to the doctor,” many become worried about the visit. Here’s how to help them.
Without bones, muscles, and joints, we couldn’t stand, walk, run, or even sit. The musculoskeletal system supports our bodies, protects our organs from injury, and enables movement.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.