Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)

Job Description

Osteopathic physicians, or D.O.s, are one of the two types of licensed physician found in the United States today.

Like their MD counterparts, D.O.S are fully qualified and trained to prescribe medication, perform surgery, diagnose injury and illness, and treat patients.

It may come as a surprise to learn that about one fifth of all medical students are studying to become osteopathic physicians.




The major difference between D.O.s and MDs is that the former take a more holistic approach to medical care and also make use of osteopathic manipulative medicine.

This latter involves active manual manipulation of the musculoskeletal system.

There are two things that set osteopathic physicians apart: they believe that the body has a great capacity for healing itself of illness or injury, and that an injury or imbalance in one part of the body can cause detrimental effects not only on the part impacted directly, but also on other areas of the body.

D.O.s use manipulation of the muscles and joints to help restore the normal balance of the body and help the body regain its health in a more natural fashion.

Like allopathic doctors, D.O.s can be found in family practice, pediatrics, gynecology, emergency medicine, and anesthesiology.

Many D.O.s practice in rural areas where the population may have difficulty finding medical care. There are nearly 70,000 osteopathic physicians in the United States, and more colleges are being added to the 29 already in existence for their training.




Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Understand Complex Medical Data

Must be able to interpret complex medical data and draw conclusions.

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions.


Must be able to pinpoint small details that could make or break patient diagnosis and evaluation.


Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Mathematics & Science

Must know about the human body and interactions it has with its environment. Must know how to solve complex mathematical equations.

Systems Analysis & Evaluation

 Determining how a system should work in order to fix it if problems arise.


Working Conditions


As with all physicians, osteopathic physicians can work on their own or be part of a team or clinic. D.O.s can be found not only in rural areas, but also in urban ones where family health clinics are often in short supply. In most cases, the D.O. will be a family doctor, or primary care physician.



Salary Outlook