There are two types of fully licensed medical doctors in the United States: M.D.s and D.O.s. While the M.D. degree stands for “Doctor of Medicine,” the D.O. degree stands for “Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.”
Allopathic Physician (M.D.)
M.D.s examine patients, obtain medical histories, order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. They counsel patients about illness, injuries, health conditions and preventive healthcare (diet/fitness, smoking cessation, etc.). They can also conduct medical research, teach and run medical centers. People with medical education are in demand in many areas. Find out more about becoming an M.D. here.
Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)
D.O.s practice osteopathic medicine, which represents a school of medical thought first introduced by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. Osteopathic medicine encompasses a unifying philosophy and approach to patient care, as well as a system of Osteopathic hands-on diagnosis and treatment through the use of manipulative medicine. Like their M.D. counterparts, they are fully licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe medications and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Today, more than 20% of all U.S. medical students are studying at a college of osteopathic medicine. To learn more about a career as a Doctor of Osteopathy, click here. You can also check out this site to learn more about osteopathic medicine.
M.D./Ph.D. Dual Degrees
The Association of American Medical Colleges has great resources that help students interested in M.D./Ph.D. programs explore their options. M.D./Ph.D. programs provide training in both medicine and research. They are specifically designed for those who want to become research physicians, also known as physician-investigators or physician-scientists. Graduates of M.D./Ph.D. programs often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes. Regardless of where they eventually work, M.D./Ph.D. candidates are being prepared for careers in which they will spend most of their time doing research, in addition to caring for patients. The M.D./Ph.D. dual career is busy, challenging and rewarding, and it offers opportunities to do good for many people by advancing knowledge, developing new treatments for diseases and pushing back the boundaries of the unknown. Find out more about this dual degree option from AAMC here.