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Learning about physicians

How do you earn the title "doctor?"

In our society we refer to a variety of professionals with the title doctor. In addition to individuals with doctoral degrees, such as PhDs, we may hear the name of a pharmacist, chiropractor, sports trainer or physician assistant proceeded by "doctor." However, only graduates of accredited medical schools and osteopathic medical colleges can claim legal right to serve as a physician.

M.D. and D.O. degrees

Each year, the 125 medical schools in the U.S. award 15,000 medical students the M.D. degree (Doctor of Medicine). Each of these new physicians has completed four-years of pre-medical undergraduate work at an accredited college or university, plus four years of medical school.

In addition, more than 2,000 medical students annually earn a D.O. degree (Doctor of Osteopathy) after four years in college and four years in one of 20 U.S. osteopathic medical colleges. Their education emphasizes the interrelationship of structure and function and includes training in manipulative treatment, as well as medical, therapeutic and surgical procedures. These physicians can go on to advanced training in various medical specialties.

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