An osteopath is a doctor who has graduated from an osteopathic medical school and received a doctor of osteopathy (DO), while a doctor of medicine (MD) has graduated from a conventional medical school.

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Individuals with a DO degree have the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as physicians with an MD degree. Both MDs and DOs must complete residency training in their chosen specialties, and both must pass the same licensing examinations. Osteopathy shares many of the same goals as traditional medicine but places greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system as well as on treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.