Episode 6: MD vs DO


MD or DO? In this episode, one of our grads discusses the differences and similarities between a Medical Doctor and a Doctor of Osteopathy, and why she chose her path.

Episode 6 - MD vs DO Transcript


Milena Garcia: Medical Doctor or Dr of Osteopathy. I think, more than ever, prospective students are asking themselves these questions and with the Academic and licensure differences continuing to shrink the decision really is coming down to a personal preference and what your professional goals as a physician will be, my guest today is current RUSM student class of 2023 Kristin. Kristin. Let's take a moment to have you introduce yourself to our audience.

Kristin Ezell: Hello, my name is Kristen. I'm from California, but I live in South Florida. I attended the University of Miami for undergrad I have my bachelor's of science and biology and I'm now a current second year student at Ross University, and I'll be graduating in 2023

Similarities between the DO and MD Programs

Milena Garcia: Great.  And I really appreciate you taking your time to share your insights With us here today.  So let's get right into it: MD or DO, Future Dr. Kristen. What are the similarities between the two programs?

Kristin Ezell: The two things are very similar. They are required to meet the same standards of practice. So if you're practicing as an MD or do, you're going to have all of the same responsibilities, you'll be able to practice in all the same. All 50 states.

 And actually, after June 2020 you now have the same accrediting body for all of your residency programs so ACGME oversees all of those now. That also means for students looking at DO, there are no longer DO-specific residency programs for licensing. MD students take the USMLE and DO students can take the USMLE, but must take the complex.

How are the MD and DO Programs Different?

Milena Garcia: How are the programs different then?

Kristin Ezell: I think the major difference between MD and DO is going to be their philosophy of care. For DO they focus on preventative care manual manipulation and a holistic approach that isn't necessarily a focus in MD programs do students also undergo extra weeks of training or extra in terms of versus an MD in training in osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Milena Garcia: And I think that that doesn't mean that the MDS. Don't take this whole body approach. In fact, I think over the past decade, there has been a shift in focus to a more holistic approach at some of the allopathic schools as well. Also, I think it's worth mentioning that do is not the same thing as osteopaths. This is a term that is used for foreign trained practitioners of Osteopathic manipulation, who are not licensed physicians right I'm Christian, what are some of the reasons that you chose the MD over the DO?

Kristin Ezell: Yeah, there are a few reasons. One of the major ones was just international recognition of an MD. And these are internationally recognized and they have been for a long time. You can go to a different country and practices and MD and when you're choosing DO you have to make the consideration that a DO degree doesn't hold the same meaning in any country outside of the US, like you said, an osteopath anywhere else is not a licensed physician. And so you might not be able to practice in another country. And if you can practice DO, transition may take longer versus an MD.

And the transition will decrease a little bit more in the next couple of years. But for now, I think the major reason for me for choosing MD was research. I worked in research before starting medical school and fingers crossed. I hope to work and research after medical school. And just MD programs in the universities or institutions. Other attached. You are generally a lot more involved in research and securing funding for research. when you're looking through LSPIs and first authors and medical journals, you really see PhD and MD deals are not as prevalent there. So that can be something to consider. If you're like me and really into the research side of things. And then I think a big one for a lot of people is just entering subspecialties. All residences are now accepting the USMLE So, ones that were complex only before do specific now except the assembly. but not all residency programs, except the complex. So, do students wishing to pursue those programs like specialty programs that are typically for USMLE MD students may be going through a deal program that isn't setting them up for their best success, where it's it's gearing them towards complex when they need to take the USMLE.

Milena Garcia: Again, I think that will start to change, now that the two systems have merged, but maybe not quite yet. Now do you think because of the merger of the two residency systems of the graduate medical education systems, do you think that will make residency more competitive?

Kristin Ezell: I do. I think it will make it more competitive for DO students. And it really is coming back to also that the DO specific programs that used to exist, don't any longer. So they will have MD students applying to all those historically DO programs.

Milena Garcia: Now question that I'm sure prospective students are wondering, is there a salary difference between an MD and a DO? 

Kristin Ezell: Okay right off the bat, I really hope not. I hope that you're making the same salary range. I think that comes a lot down to specialties. So if you're a DO cardiologist, and you're an MD Cardiologist at the same institution, I would hope that you're making comparable pay. But DO’s, in general, tend to work more preventative care which, on average, has less of a salary than somebody working in a specialty which MDs gravitate towards  And also you can consider that deals tend to work in more rural areas which were may or may not have an effect on the average salary.

Milena Garcia: Right so specialty and location sound like are the two big drivers of salary, not the DO or the MD. In your case, tell us. Let's talk about you now for a little bit. Why did you choose Ross?

Kristin Ezell: Well, I'll be really honest and I chose the Caribbean school because I did not get into us medical school. I did well in the MCAT, but I didn't do well in undergrad. I didn't get an amazing 4.0 GPA. So I really turned to Caribbean schools. After going through that cycle and not getting interviews, I chose Ross, in particular, because I actually worked in a family practice and the doctor who ran the practice was an alumna. She had a huge impact on me. She made me really confident in my decision to apply and ultimately attend Ross just because seeing her practice and being so great at her job was like the best reviews somebody could give.

Milena Garcia: How is the program going for you?

Kristin Ezell: It's great. Honestly, I'm really enjoying it. I would say that it's not easy  medical school.

Milena Garcia: Yes, folks. You've been more and you heard it here. It's not an easy school right? It’s no walk on the beach, pun intended.

Kristin Ezell: I am yeah I'm here, I’m trying. I am really grateful to have been given the chance to become an MD, despite my bad GPA or some bad numbers on paper. I was afraid of flying here and coming to Ross because of my low GPA, or my track record, like my own personal insecurity, was that I was going to come here and not do well. But I'm here, and I am doing well, and I think that is because this is not undergrad and I worked all the way through undergrad. So I worked even more and saved up enough to come here and not have to work and take out loans. And I'm doing great.

Tips to be Successful in Medical School

Milena Garcia: And so share some of your techniques with us. What does it take to be successful in medical school?

Kristin Ezell: For sure. I think one of the major factors is really just having the capability to be honest with yourself and to be flexible with what you're doing. Really take the time to evaluate if the way that you're studying is working or not working and make changes, and studying for medical school is nothing like studying for undergrad. You will have to really work to find what is working for you and what is going to make you successful

Milena Garcia: And for that, we have the Academy of teaching and learning, to help all the current students decide and find what kind of study techniques work well for them. So definitely encourage everybody to look up our resources as well. Kristen, I appreciate your time. Any other advice for our future Rossies listening?

Kristin Ezell: Yeah, my advice would just be to know yourself and know that if this is what you want to do and this is what you're passionate about. You have done your research and said, I want to be an MD, but for whatever reason I didn't get into a US program or I prefer the Caribbean program, go for it. It is not easy. You'll be investing a lot of time and a lot of money. But it's also the path to your dreams. So you know i like i said coming into this. I had some insecurities about my own performance and I'm doing great. So it's possible.

Milena Garcia: Congratulations. It's all on you, right? It's 100%.  You will be given the resources, we open the door. We give you the opportunity, you come in with your half of the equation and look at you, you're doing it. We're so proud. Congratulations. I really look forward to watching you graduate in a couple more years here. Kristen wanted to thank you one more time for taking your time to join us here and share your insights with our future Rossies listening. We appreciate it. And we will see you guys on the next episode.