Difference between OD and MD

Before diving into the differences, it is important to know that OD is short for Doctor of Osteopathy while MD is short for Doctor of Medicine. Both the professional titles, OD, and MD, have quite a few similarities when it comes to the length of studies, internships, licenses, exams, etc. However, subtle features differentiate them and help us know the right door to knock on in times of crisis.

OD vs MD

The main difference between OD and MD is that an OD focuses on treatment for the entire body with the use of either traditional or non-traditional medication. On the other hand, an MD focuses on treatment for a specific illness, injury, or disease in a patient by prescribing traditional medication.

OD vs MD

An OD or Doctor of Osteopathy is a medically licensed physician who uses quite a different approach with patients. While handling a patient, an OD focuses on treatment and care for the entire body and not just one specific part of it. Moreover, the primary focus is on prevention rather than cure.

An MD or Doctor of Medicine is a medically licensed doctor whose aim is to treat a patient for specific conditions. These conditions could include injuries, illnesses, or diseases that affect certain parts of the body. These doctors prescribe medicines to their patients in order to cure the condition they are facing.

Comparison Table Between OD and MD

Parameters of ComparisonODMD
AbbreviationOD stands for Doctor of Osteopathy.MD stands for Doctor of Medicine.
TreatmentAn OD uses a full-body approach while treating a patient.An MD treats the patient only for specific conditions which may include illness, injury, or disease.
MedicineAn OD uses either traditional or non-traditional medicine for treatment.An MD uses traditional medicine which he/she prescribes to treat a patient.
FocusAn OD focuses more on prevention by assessing the lifestyle and habits of the patient.An MD focuses more on curing the patient for specific conditions that may affect certain parts of their body.
SchoolingAn OD is trained in an Osteopathy school.An MD is trained in a Medical School.
PracticesAn OD is trained and licensed to perform physical manipulations such as Osteopathic Medical Treatment.An MD is not trained or licensed to perform physical manipulations for patients.

What is OD?

OD stands for Doctor of Osteopathy. These are medically licensed physicians who treat the entire body of a patient. They may use traditional or non-traditional medicine to do so. An OD assesses a patient’s lifestyle and habits in order to come up with a solution for them. Rather than short-term cure, an OD focuses on long-term prevention of illness and disease.

A strong focus for an osteopathic professional in primary care. However, these physicians have ample practice in all medical specialties. An OD receives special training in the musculoskeletal system in medical school. This system in the body is what connects the nerves, muscles, and bones

Doctors of Osteopathy must complete four years of schooling from a place that grants legitimate degrees for the same. The primary focus while learning is on the subjects of preventive medicine and overall patient care. After graduation, an OD has to complete 8 years of training through internships, residencies, and fellowships. On completion, they are granted a license to practice their profession.

Interestingly, the only osteopathic programs that qualify people to become osteopathic doctors are present in the United States. This osteopathy degree is equally prestigious as one obtained by a Doctor of Medicine.

What is MD?

MD stands for Doctor of Medicine. These doctors are medically licensed professionals whose job is to treat specific conditions such as illness, injury, or disease in specific parts of the body. Such doctors prescribe traditional medicines for the treatment of a patient. The primary focus of an MD is to cure the problem or treat the symptoms.

An MD is also called an allopathic doctor. The study is called allopathic medicine, conventional medicine, or mainstream medicine. The traditional methods that these doctors use to treat and diagnose a condition are x-rays, surgery, and prescription drugs.

A Doctor of Medicine can choose whether he/she wants to become a broad practitioner, family doctor, or primary care doctor. There are a lot of different areas in which these doctors can specialize. Some of these include surgery, psychiatry, paediatrics, geriatric medicine, or doctors for specific body parts or organs. However, these require further education after a degree.

A Doctor of Medicine must complete four years of education to acquire an undergraduate degree. In doing so, a graduate must successfully pass an exam to be admitted to a medical college where he/she can pursue further studies. After completion of studies, the graduate must pursue several internships to acquire a license. 

Main Differences Between OD and MD

  1. OD stands for Doctor of Osteopathy while MD stands for Doctor of Medicine.
  2. An OD uses a full-body approach while an MD treats and diagnoses specific conditions only.
  3. An OD may or may not use traditional medicine, however, an MD always uses traditional medicine for the treatment of a patient.
  4. An OD focuses on prevention while an MD focuses on the cure.
  5. An OD is trained in osteopathy school while an MD is trained in medical school.


OD and MD are two degrees that have equal value, at least in the United States. Even though both have striking similarities, the subtle differences between them cannot be ignored. One of the most distinguishable features among the two is that an OD is a Doctor of Osteopathy while an MD is a Doctor of Medicine.

An OD uses a full-body approach as well as takes a close look at the lifestyle and habits of the patient. This is done to provide comprehensive care to the patient while focusing on prevention. Meanwhile, an MD only treats and diagnoses specific conditions that affect specific parts of the body.


  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/331708
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/9556692
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