What Is a D.O.?

Discover the Difference

The process of becoming a D.O., or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, is nearly indistinguishable from the process of becoming an M.D. Our students are held to the same high standards, must complete four years of school and a residency. They are licensed to practice in all 50 states. They are trained to leverage all modern medical treatments and technologies to diagnose and treat disease and injury.

Dr. Smith-Kelly demonstrating proper manipulation techniques during class

What is the difference?

In addition to the standardized medical curriculum, every osteopathic medical student must complete approximately 200 additional hours of training in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM). Our students learn a system of hands-on techniques that help assess health, alleviate pain and restore motion. This approach to diagnosis and treatment supports the body’s natural functions and influences the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently.

WVSOM Student checking knee reflex of a patient

We see the patient as a person.

It is this patient-centric, hands-on diagnostic and treatment approach that helps our students become physicians who make a difference for their patients, and that’s the most important difference. Our students are trained to look at the whole patient from their first days of medical school, which means they see each patient as a person – more than just a collection of organ systems and body parts that may become injured or diseased.

WVSOM faculty member pointing out important information on a ultrasound screen as a student controls the ultrasound on a patients neck

Patient care is a partnership.

The osteopathic difference means that our medical students learn how to see their patients as partners in the health care process. They are trained to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, and practice these skills in their classrooms and learning laboratories, beginning with standardized and simulated patients.

At WVSOM you will learn how to practice medicine. Most importantly, you will learn how to make a meaningful difference in the lives of your patients with osteopathic medicine.