(BPT) - Your yearly physical, a nagging injury that won't go away, a sick child: There are plenty of reasons to go to the doctor, but when you do, do you know what type of doctor you're seeing?
The common answer most people offer is that they are going to see a medical doctor, an M.D., and in many cases they are right. Medical doctors dominate the market, but they are not the only option. Each year more and more Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) enter the market. In fact, it's possible your current physician is actually a D.O. rather than an M.D.
So now that you know D.O.s exist, you probably have some questions. This article can help. Consider it your chance to check up on the professionals who are specifically trained to check up on you.
What is a D.O.?
On the surface, a D.O. is so similar to an M.D. that a patient may not recognize the difference. Like their M.D. equivalent, D.O.s are fully licensed physicians who practice in every major specialty. D.O.s enroll in a college of osteopathic medicine, and in addition to their medical training, they also receive special training in the musculoskeletal system, your body's interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones.
D.O.s use this additional training to treat the pain or disease that is causing immediate problems for the patient. They are also taught to take a deeper look at the patient's lifestyle and environment to better understand factors that could be influencing their health. A D.O.'s focus is on the patient's total well-being and they are interested in helping their patients hone preventive techniques that can support long-term health. In short, a D.O. doesn't just want to treat you when you arrive needing help. They want to help you ward off problems before they ever arise.
A long tradition of service
While you may have never heard of a D.O. before, the profession will celebrate its 125 year anniversary in October. D.O.s have been treating patients and supporting healthy lifestyles since the early 1890s, and can now be found in some of the most prominent medical institutions including The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic.
Over the last decade, however, the popularity of D.O.s has skyrocketed. In fact, since 2006, the number of D.O.s in the United States has increased 65 percent, and D.O.s account for 11 percent of all physicians in the workforce.
Today, one in four incoming medical students is enrolled in a college of osteopathic medicine.
How do I find a D.O. near me?
The easiest thing to do is to contact your current physician and ask whether they are a D.O. It is possible you've been seeing a D.O. all along and never knew it. If your physician is not a D.O. or you're looking for a new physician and you like the idea of a D.O.'s approach to total, lifelong wellness, then finding a D.O. near you is easy.
Start your search by visiting the Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine website and entering your zip code into the 'Find a DO' tool. Once you've identified your possibilities, meet with those who appeal to you and be choosy when selecting your new physician. After all, it's your health and you deserve a medical partner who will support it every step of the way.
To learn more about the difference a D.O. can make, visit doctorsthatdo.org.