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What is a Pediatric Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?

By: Alpa Patel Shah, DO, FAAP

A pediatric Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is a pediatrician who has studied medicine at an osteopathic medical school. After that, they completed an accredited pediatric residency to specialize in caring for kids.

What kind of training do DOs have?

A DO is a physician licensed to independently practice medicine. Like allopathic physicians (MDs), osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school. Both DOs and MDs may choose to complete residencies and fellowships in any specialty of medicine, including surgical specialties; this typically includes three to eight years of further training.

DOs study traditional medicine like all physicians. In addition, DOs receive 300 to 500 hours in the study of using their hands to mobilize and stabilize the spine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

What board certifications and licensing requirements do pediatric DOs have?

A pediatrician with a DO degree is eligible to take the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (AOBP) licensing examination. Once a pediatric DO physician is board-certified, they may choose to become a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP). Becoming a FAAP signifies a commitment to lifelong learning and advocacy for children.

You can find out if your child's pediatrician is board certified here. Both DOs and MDs are required to maintain their board certification with continuing medical education (CME).

All U.S. physicians, including DOs, are licensed to practice medicine by their state licensing boards. The specific licensing requirements vary; further state licensing information can be found here.

What types of treatments do DOs provide?

Osteopathic medicine is dedicated to healing the patient as a whole, rather than focusing on a single condition or body part. In addition to the traditional medical treatment approaches used by MDs, DOs can use a method called osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) or osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

Osteopathic manipulative treatment is a hands-on approach. It aims to ensure that the body is using its own healing systems as effectively as possible. It can be a beneficial stand-alone or supplemental management tool for many health conditions.

Where can I find a pediatric DO?

DOs practice in a variety of medical settings including children's hospitals, university medical centers, community hospitals and private offices throughout the country. To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist in your area, you can search here.

More information

About Dr. Shah

Alpa Patel Shah, DO, FAAP is a board-certified pediatrician. She practices primary care pediatrics with a special interest in trauma-informed care and preventative medicine in Milwaukee, WI. Dr. Shah is actively involved in medical education and mentorship, physician wellness advocacy and serves as an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Osteopathic Pediatricians.

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American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Osteopathic Pediatricians (Copyright © 2023)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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