Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
The Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) treats and prevents human illness, disease or injury. He or she is licensed to prescribe drugs and perform surgery.
M.D.’s graduate from colleges of Allopathic Medicine. There are 126 schools of Allopathic Medicine located throughout the United States.
Medical doctors may practice medicine in specialty areas such as: family practice, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry and many more.
Generally, the minimum entrance requirements for medical school are three years of college, competitive scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and letters of recommendation. However, the majority of students entering are college graduates. Medical school programs are traditionally four years in length. Additional training is needed to specialize. Most M.D. graduates do a hospital residency, which takes three or more years to complete.
Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)
The Doctor of Osteopathy is concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human illness, disease and injury. He or she also prescribes drugs, performs surgery and selectively utilizes all accepted scientific modalities to maintain and restore health. The primary factor that distinguishes osteopathic medicine from allopathic medicine is manipulative treatment or “biomechanics.”
D.O.’s graduate from colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; they are not M.D.’s. There are 17 schools of Osteopathic Medicine located throughout the United States.
Only D.O.’s and M.D.’s are qualified to be licensed as physicians and to practice all facets of medicine and surgery. Some 55 percent of active D.O.’s provide primary health care to individuals and their families. The other 45 percent are specialists, practicing in such areas as internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics.
The requirements for entry into a school of Osteopathy are similar to those of schools of Allopathic Medicine.
Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.)
Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.)
Dentists treat oral diseases and disorders such as tooth decay, gum disease and crooked teeth. They may fill cavities and extract teeth and provide dentures for patients. Dentists can also specialize. Some examples are oral surgeons, pedodontists (work with children), orthodontists (straighten teeth), periodontists (gum disease specialists) and endodontists (perform root canal therapy). Admission to a dental school requires three to four years of college with specific science courses; however, most entering students possess a bachelor’s degree. Competitive scores on the Dental Admission Test (DAT) are also required.
The dental school curriculum is a four-year program leading to a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree. Specialization requires an additional two or more years of training.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) perform a wide range of services related to animal and human health. Some veterinarians prevent, diagnose and resolve health problems in all species of animals, family pets, farm livestock, zoo animals and wildlife. Some veterinarians develop, test, license and market new medicines and vaccines. The welfare of laboratory animals used in medical research is assured by some veterinarians. There are also D.V.M.’s who manage meat and poultry inspection programs, while others work to prevent the entry of livestock diseases into the U.S.
Admission to a college of Veterinary Medicine requires two to three years of college work with courses in math and science. Most veterinary students have bachelor’s degrees. After the four-year veterinary college program, many graduates complete an optional internship or residency program; others go directly into practice. Competitive scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are required. Some schools also require Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General, and the GRE biology subject test.
Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)
Doctors of Optometry (O.D.) are primarily health care providers who diagnose, manage and treat conditions and diseases of the human eye and visual system, as regulated by state law. Optometrists are thoroughly trained to recognize signs and symptoms of eye or systematic disease and make referrals to the appropriate health care practitioner for further diagnosis and treatment, if required. Doctors of Optometry provide vision care by prescribing ophthalmic lenses, contact lenses, other optical aids and vision therapy. Doctors of Optometry receive four years of specialized professional education and clinical training at an accredited school of Optometry, after competition of their undergraduate prerequisites. Although a minimum of two years of college is required, the majority of today’s optometry students have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Competitive scores from the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) are required.
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.)
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, both medically and surgically, of diseases and disorders affecting the foot and leg. D.P.M.’s make independent judgments, administer treatment, prescribe medications, and when necessary, perform surgery.
In addition to general and preventive podiatric medicine, there are a number of specialty areas, including: podiatric sports medicine, podiatric surgery, podopediatrics, orthopedics and podiatric medicine. Students of Podiatric Medicine engage in a rigorous four-year course of professional studies. Following pre-doctoral education and training, D.P.M.’s enter into a one to three-year residency program or a 12-month preceptorship. The requirements for entry into a School of Podiatric Medicine are similar to those of Schools of Allopathic Medicine.
Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.)
Pharmacists are experts in the science of drugs and the art of drug therapy. They are also vital members of the health care team. The first professional degree program in pharmacy, which qualifies the graduate for licenser examination, may be either the baccalaureate or the doctor of pharmacy (Pharm D.) degree. The baccalaureate curriculum customarily requires a five-year program of college study including pharmacy. A Pharm. D. program customarily requires six years and may also be designed as a post baccalaureate program, usually exceeding six years of study.
Admission to pharmacy programs is usually contingent upon successful completion of a pre- pharmacy curriculum. Many programs require that the applicant take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). In addition, admission requirements may include grade point average, residency status, letters of recommendation and applicant interviews. Prepharmacy course work typically consists of chemistry, biological sciences, physical sciences, English, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities.
Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.)
A Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) is a physician whose purpose is to help meet the health needs of the public as a member of the healing arts. He/she gives particular attention to the relationship of the structural and neurological aspects of the body and is educated in the basic and clinical sciences as well as in related health subjects. Chiropractic science concerns itself with the relationship between structure (primarily the spine), and function (primarily coordinated by the nervous system), of the human body as that relationship may affect the restoration and preservation of health.
The purpose of his/her professional education is to prepare the doctor of chiropractic as a primary health care provider; to provide the students with a base of knowledge sufficient for the performance of his or her professional obligations as a doctor of chiropractic. As a portal of entry to the health delivery system, the Doctor of Chiropractic must be well educated to diagnose for chiropractic care, to provide chiropractic care, and to consult with, or refer to, other health care providers as indicated.
Public Health/Community Health Educators promote good health by educating the public about the causes of disease and the means of prevention. They also assist other health personnel plan by developing health services, which meet a community’s special needs. Master and doctoral degrees in public health or community health education are generally required for professional positions in the field. A four-year bachelor’s degree in health education may prepare students for beginning jobs in some health agencies. The Graduate Record Exam may also be required.