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What is an osteopathic doctor?

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Quick Answer

An osteopathic doctor is a fully qualified physician licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery; osteopathic doctors concentrate on treating the patient as a whole and not just specific symptoms. Osteopathic doctors have a different philosophy and approach to patient care than traditional medical doctors, notes the American Osteopathic Association.

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Full Answer

Through special training in the musculoskeletal system, a DO can understand how that system interacts with and influences the other body systems, not only to identify and correct structural problems to help body self-heal, but also to help prevent disease, notes the American Osteopathic Association. To become a DO, students enroll in four years of academic study at an osteopathic medical school, with particular emphasis on preventive medicine and comprehensive patient care.

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