Letters to the Editor  |   April 2011
Article Information
Medical Education / Being a DO / Graduate Medical Education
Letters to the Editor   |   April 2011
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2011, Vol. 111, 297-298. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2011, Vol. 111, 297-298. doi:
I would like to thank The Journal for the opportunity to respond to Dr Patriquin's correspondence. Dr Patriquin correctly states that the debate over our professional “identity” has been raging for decades. Perhaps the reason for this ongoing debate is related to the scientific and technological advances in medicine. The osteopathic medical profession has incorporated these advances and moved into a position of being nearly identical to its allopathic sibling, while allopathic physicians have recognized the benefits of an holistic approach and moved closer to our osteopathic “philosophy.” Thus, a de facto merger between the osteopathic and allopathic medical professions has effectively been accomplished. 
There are few, if any, purely DO or MD hospitals left, and few medical schools are without a mixed DO/MD faculty. Osteopathic and allopathic residents train side by side in hospitals, they frequently take the same examinations, and they commonly join each other on the same hospital staffs. In point of fact, the only difference left between these 2 branches of the medical profession is the degree designation. 
Much of Dr Patriquin's letter provides an example of this perspective. While noting that he served honorably as a military physician, Dr Patriquin presents his observations and conclusions on a problem that is neither “osteopathic” nor “allopathic,” but simply “medical.” Perhaps, because Dr Patriquin states that his “main professional interest” is “osteopathic principles and practice” (OPP), he also brings an OPP perspective to the problem he discusses. However, wouldn't it benefit more servicemen and servicewomen—and more patients in general—if such an OPP approach was disseminated throughout the entire medical profession? 
The debate over a possible degree change for the purpose of enhancing public recognition of osteopathic physicians—a battle that requires continued fighting after more than a century—will rage on, because the DO-MD merger has effectively already been accomplished. Time, science, technology, and economics have already made the decision to unite the 2 medical siblings in a de facto manner. All that remains is for the osteopathic medical profession to formally recognize this union with the granting of both degrees at graduation (ie, an “MD, DO” degree). Then we would be free to spend our valuable time fighting for our patients and our united profession, rather than for public recognition of our status as physicians. 
Such formal recognition would finally put this issue to rest and allow us to not only continue to provide the best care possible for our patients, but also to bring the benefits of manipulative medicine to all patients—not just those who have DOs as their physicians. After all, isn't that the real goal?