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Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. (founder)

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

Medicine · US Medical education

Schools · Physicians

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine


Allopathic & Osteopathic Comparison

Specialty Colleges · AOABS

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Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O. or DO) is an academic degree offered in the United States. It is a graduate-level first professional degree for physicians and surgeons, usually requiring four years to complete. Holders of the D.O. degree are known as osteopathic physicians, while holders of the similar, but more common M.D. degree are known as allopathic physicians. The existence of this distinction and of D.O.s as licensed physicians is not widely known.[1]

Although U. S. osteopathic medical physicians currently may obtain licensure in 47 countries, osteopathic curricula in countries other than the United States differs. D.O.s outside the U. S. are known as "osteopaths" and their scope of practice excludes allopathic medical therapies and relies more exclusively on osteopathic manipulative medicine and other alternative medical modalities.

See also: Osteopathic medicine (U.S.) and Comparison of M.D. and D.O.


International variations in the D.O. degree

In the United States, D.O.s are "doctors of osteopathic medicine" who are trained as physicians.

In France, Germany,and Switzerland, some osteopathic practitioners are M.D.s who take additional courses in osteopathy after completing their medical training. In the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, “osteopaths" are trained in osteopathic principles and osteopathic manipulative treatment but are not physicians.

According to the BIOMEA, in most countries outside the United States, D.O. stands for “diploma of osteopathy,” not “doctor of osteopathic medicine.” The difference is that osteopaths are not trained or licensed as physicians, and therefore do not carry the same practice rights, such as surgery and prescribing medication. However, osteopaths in some countries do act as primary care providers, coordinating treatment with fully licensed primary care physicians.[2]

Current status and scope of practice

While there are approximately 55,000 D.O.s practicing within the United States, this number represents only 6% of all practicing physicians. D.O.'s may obtain licensure in any of the fifty states and practice in all medical specialties including, but not limited to, family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, dermatology, surgery, and radiology. The D.O. degree is the legal and professional equivalent of the M.D. degree and as such there is no difference in compensation between allopathic and osteopathic physicians.

International practice rights


Every country has different requirements and a different way of licensing or registering osteopathic physicians and osteopaths. The only osteopathic practitioners that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes as physicians are graduates of osteopathic medical colleges in the United States.[3] Therefore, osteopaths who have trained outside the United States are not eligible for medical licensure in the United States. On the other hand, US-trained D.O.s are currently able to practice in 45 countries with full medical rights and in several others with restricted rights.

The following is a table of International Practice Rights of U.S trained Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, as listed by the American Osteopathic Association.[4]

Country Year of latest policy Medical Practice Rights Requirements for Licensure
Argentina 1994 Unlimited. Full license granted to US-trained D.O.
Australia 2000 Restricted. Varies by state.
Austria 1994 Unlimited. Hospital must have position unable to be filled by Austrian physician.
Bahamas 1997 Unlimited. US license recognized.
Bolivia 1988 Unknown. No response from embassy.
Brazil 2000 Unlimited. Completion of Brazilian board exam & some training in Brazilian hospital is required.
Canada (varies by province)
Alberta Unlimited. LMCC, Step 1&2 required
British Columbia Unlimited. LMCC required
Manitoba Unlimited. US license recognized.
New Brunswick Unlimited. LMCC required, except DOs registered in Maine
Newfoundland Pending. Currently under review.
NW Territories Unlimited. US license recognized.
Nova Scotia Unlimited. Only D.O.s from ACGME (US or Canadian) residency.
Ontario Unlimited. Only D.O.s from ACGME residency.
Prince Edward I. Restricted. No provision for US D.O.
Quebec Unlimited. 1 year GME in Quebec & French fluency required.
Saskatchewan Limited. OMM only.
Yukon Territory Unlimited. US license recognized.
Cayman Islands (UK) 1983 Unlimited. US license recognized.
Chile 1993. Unlimited. A written exam, in Spanish, is required.
China 1994 Unlimited. US-DOs are permitted to apply for "Short Term Medical Practice" only.
Costa Rica 1993 Unlimited. Several requirements. (Same as for any foreign MD.)
Denmark 1995 Unknown. No response from embassy.
Dominican Republic 2000 Unlimited. US license recognized.
Ecuador Unlimited. Several. Same as for any foreign MD.
Finland 1996 Unlimited. Several. Same as for any foreign MD.
France 1988 Restricted. OMM only. French government does not recognize osteopathic medicine.
Germany 1993 Unlimited. No special requirements. Decisions made on individual basis.
Greece 2004 Unlimited. Difficult. Greek citizenship required.
Hong Kong 1998 Unlimited. Written examination. Personal interview. Training approval.
India 1999 Undetermined. Indian nationality status required.
Indonesia 1992 Unlimited. All foreign physicians affiliated with a University project or a mission have unlimited practice rights. No private practice allowed.
Ireland 1999 Under review. The Irish government has repeated declined to recognize US trained D.O.s as physicians. The American Osteopathic Association president has said that obtaining unlimited practice rights for US-trained D.O.s in Ireland is a top priority in 2007.[5]
Lebanon 2004 Unlimited. AOA letter required. Examination required.
New Zealand 2005 Unlimited. Hearing required. Case-by-case basis.
Nigeria 1999 Unlimited. An appearance before the Nigerian Medical Council & an oral quiz.
Singapore 1993 None. Singapore does not recognize US DO degree. Only recognizes US MD degree from 37 US allopathic schools.[6]
Spain 1994 None. No medical practice rights.
Sweden 1996 Unlimited. US license recognized.
Taiwan 2005 Unlimited. The ROC government recognizes US D.O. degree. Applicants must take Taiwan Examination Yuan to obtain Taiwanese license.
United Kingdom 2005 Unlimited. US-trained DOs eligible for full medical practice rights. Applicants must pass the PLAB examination and work for one year in the National Health Service. Following that year, the applicants will be able to apply for a license to practice privately.
Table data from AOA International License Summary.[4]


  1. ^ Gevitz N. Visible and recognized: osteopathic invisibility syndrome and the 2% solution. The DO. March 1997:23-4, 26-7. PMID: 9107129
  2. ^ McNerney, Joseph. Chairman, Bureau on International Osteopathic Medical Education and Affairs. Osteopathic Degrees Overseas: Response. J Am Osteopath Assoc Jan 2007 Vol 107;No 1 p 7
  3. ^ Notices. Federal Register. Vol. 70, No. 190. 3 Oct 2005. [1]
  4. ^ a b AOA International License Summary. American Osteopathic Association. Council on International Osteopathic Medical Education and Affairs.[2]
  5. ^ Peter B. Ajluni US-Trained DOs in Ireland. AOA president's blog. 12 Mar 2007. [3]
  6. ^ Registrable Basic Medical Degrees. Singapore Medical Council accessed Oct 2007.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Doctor_of_Osteopathic_Medicine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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