LETTER PERFECT? LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Title before name more important than one after
A s mentioned in Barbara Green-
wald’s “Letter Perfect: Can a New
Degree Lead to More Respect, Recog-
plete confidence and address as “Doc-
tor.” If you are in practice and strug-
gling with the initials at the end of your
of Columbia University College of
Physicians and Surgeons in New York
City and was taught the same thing).
nition for DOs?” in the February issue, name, I would suggest, Doctor, you The only effect of my DO designation
the soul searching and angst of stu- need to concentrate more on your has been to make some uninformed
dents and some physicians over the prefix and the opportunity and oblig- laypeople question what I am and to
DO degree is one that refuses to retire. ation you have to provide high quali- restrict any opportunities I may have
While I am not surprised to see the ty patient care. had to practice in other countries.
discussion continues to thrive among Our degree needs to be changed,
osteopathic medical students today, I Michael Schmidt, DO but using something as confusing as
am surprised to see it continues to draw Dr Schmidt practices at Memorial MDO, DOM or other such designa-
the attention of osteopathic physicians Healthcare hospital in Owosso, Mich. tions will do nothing more than squan-
who have been in practice for many der the hard-earned acceptance we have
years. World has changed and so must we already achieved with the DO degree.
I am an orthopedic surgeon certi- I graduated from the Philadelphia If we are to be fully recognized as
fied by the American Osteopathic College of Osteopathic Medicine in the complete physicians we are while
Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, and I 1973 and pursued both osteopathic maintaining our distinctiveness as physi-
practice at a mixed staff community and allopathic graduate medical train- cians who add an additional dimen-
hospital. My experience has been that ing. Throughout both my training and sion to the care we provide, there is
any discrimination or undue deference subsequent practice, I was never, to only one logical option—MD, DO. It
toward one’s degree subsides fairly my knowledge, discriminated against is a designation that would elevate our
quickly in clinical practice providing or looked down on as a DO, working prestige and recognition and open infi-
you practice well. MD or DO, we are daily among MDs. I have held staff nite options while maintaining our his-
each physicians and, as such, stand by and faculty appointments at both MD torical roots. The time has come, along
our clinical skills, patient care and col- and DO schools and hospitals, was a with the 21st century, to accept reali-
legial rapport as the yardsticks of our chief of service at an MD hospital as ty and move on.
fitness to practice. The issue of degrees well as a medical staff officer, and now
becomes transparent. practice health law. Nonetheless, there Eric E. Shore, DO, JD
In short, good doctors are good have been numerous occasions in Dr Shore is a founding member of Kane
doctors. As DOs strive to occupy an which patients have asked me whether & Shore law firm in Philadelphia.
ever greater segment of the population I was an “eye doctor” or only special-
of the very best physicians, the public ized in bones. Degree doesn’t lead to recognition
becomes more and more aware of just The world changes, and so must I have practiced for 25 years in a world-
what it is we’ve been trying to preach we. There are few, if any, purely “osteo- renowned allopathic headache clinic.
all these years. No amount of market- pathic” or “allopathic” hospitals left. In those 25 years, I have had one
ing skill, wordplay or manipulation of In more than 25 years of medical prac-
initials can substitute for high quality tice, I have never been able to discern
product. how I ausculted a heart and lungs, The opinions expressed in “Letters to
MD? MDO? DO? DOM? We palpated a liver or prescribed medica- the Editor” are those of the authors
should all reconnect to what it is we’re tion differently from my MD col- and do not reflect the viewpoints of
doing and undertake our calling in such leagues. Equally important, I have never the editors or the official policy of the
fashion that no one can question or found any difference in “philosophy” AOA. “Letters to the Editor” is intend-
disparage our credential. If you are a taught to me as a DO compared with ed to be a forum for communication
DO student, it is your challenge to that practiced by our MD brethren. on issues of interest to the osteopathic
become that person that any human We are all taught to treat the “whole medical profession and on articles that
can look to with appreciation and com- patient” (my son is an MD graduate have been published in The DO.
THE DO April 2008 Letters 9
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
patient who refused to continue with Joan M. Resk, DO, JD of my degree makes no difference to
me because I was a DO. AOA board certified in family medicine me. However, in all truthfulness, most
In my early years, we kept educa- and in neuromusculoskeletal medicine DOs I know just wanted to be physi-
tional brochures on hand describing and osteopathic manipulative medi- cians and went to a medical school
the differences and similarities between cine, Dr Resk practices in Roanoke, where they would be accepted. We
DOs and MDs and would distribute Va. did not want to be DOs but were grate-
them regularly. In recent years, I have ful for the opportunity to practice
not been asked once, nor has my staff Questions? Sure. Problems? No. medicine.
received queries, regarding the difference During osteopathic medical school I I think that we would welcome a
between a DO and an MD. Therefore, was intrigued by the DOM and MDO change in our initials to reflect what
it would seem that the efforts of the phenomena. I wanted all the advan- we do on a day-to-day basis: practice
AOA have been effective in improving tages of being a DO, but I also want- medicine. The designation that makes
knowledge of our profession. In addi- ed to be thought of as an MD. the most sense to me is MD, DO. Since
tion, if my degree worked against me, Luckily, time has a wonderful effect we utilize all areas of medicine and
I would not have been selected by my on people, and it leads to wisdom and surgery in addition to osteopathic
MD and DO peers as one of the top knowledge. During my training and manipulative medicine, a dual degree
physicians in the Chicago area for five subsequent practice, I found that designation would openly explain this
consecutive years. MDs were no better than many DOs, to our patients.
I would encourage all of my col- and many DOs were actually better
leagues to look at being the finest than some MDs. Great doctors are not Joseph F. DeMario, DO
physician you can be and to provide rated on which degree they have but A 1994 graduate of the Des Moines
the highest standard of care to your on how well they treat their patients (Iowa) University—College of Osteo-
patients. This will do more to bring and their families. pathic Medicine, Dr DeMario prac-
you the recognition you may be seek- Many of my patients searched for a tices general internal medicine in Enola,
ing than any degree change ever could. DO. Most have experience with our Pa.
profession and acknowledge our holis-
Frederick G. Freitag, DO tic approach to healthcare, not just our Change would betray pioneers
In the January issue of Chicago mag- ability to perform osteopathic manip- I was one of the degree change propo-
azine, Dr Freitag was named one of ulative treatment. nents more than 20 years ago when I
the Chicago area’s top physicians. AOA I for one do not want to change the was a medical student. But during my
board certified in family medicine, he designation of our profession from DO graduate medical training, I discovered
practices in Chicago. to some sort of alphabet soup: DMO, my “osteopathic pride.” We should be
MDO, DOM, OMD. I am proud to proud of who we are. The physicians
Tired of explaining DO be a DO, and patients know what I who trained us were real pioneers. They
I would prefer the designation MD, do because of those two letters. Yes, I had to overcome so much to get their
DO because it demonstrates that we still get the questions: “Are you an training, especially in the subspecial-
have a full medical degree with all the optometrist? An orthopedic special- ties. Our profession is full of great
attendant knowledge. In addition, DO ist?” But I revel in the opportunity to physicians, and we can be proud of
designates a specialty or additional teach laypeople what our profession our achievements and our hospitals.
training. is all about. It would be a betrayal to those who
There is no way around the DO have gone before us, the pioneers of
degree in the medical world and real Fernando Petry, DO the osteopathic medical profession, and
world other than to add MD. I have A 1996 graduate of the Nova South- to ourselves to change our degree. Be
been in practice for 38 years, and I am eastern University College of Osteo- proud of who we are!
still explaining what a DO is to patients. pathic Medicinein Fort Lauderdale,
With the alleged advertising and pro- Fla, Dr Petry practices emergency med- Anna Marie C. Sander, DO
motion done by the AOA, I see little dif- icine in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. AOA board certified in general inter-
ference in recognition in all this time. nal medicine and pulmonary diseases,
I still have “What Is a DO?” flyers in MD, DO the way to go Dr Sander practices in Fishers, Ind.
my waiting room. I ask, Why do I still I practice in Pennsylvania, which is DO She is a 1987 graduate of the New
need them? friendly. On a practical level, the title York College of Osteopathic Medicine
10 Letters THE DO April 2008
of New York Institute of Technology a fellow of the American Academy of OMD, for doctor of oriental medicine.
in Old Westbury. Osteopathy. He practices in Engle- Retired, Dr England lives in Southamp-
wood, Colo. ton, Pa.
New letters a better description
Finally, a discussion about the We owe the public New degree would dishonor
inevitable! The time is now for a a more recognizable degree predecessors
degree-letter change. As DOs, our ranks I spent 50 years practicing my profes- I practice obstetrics and gynecology in
are growing but our recognition will sion, and I had to spend a lot of time the western suburbs of Chicago, and
continue to stagnate. As an internist, explaining my degree to thousands of I will say that I don’t lack for patients.
I practice medicine every day, just as patients. Some of them said they would They and all of my colleagues refer to
my MD colleague adjacent to my prac- only come to me for structural, classi- me as “Dr Daube.” I believe the cred-
tice. You can run ad campaigns and cal osteopathic medical matters, and it for that must be attributed to all of
host Web sites all you want, but MD some became converts. It would have the superior DOs who have preceded
will always hold better name recogni- been so much easier for me if I had me.
tion throughout the world. We will an MDO degree––I could have spent It would be, in my opinion, a great
never catch up. more time rendering care to my patients dishonor to all of the osteopathic physi-
I am an advocate of MDO or MD, rather than explaining the semantics cians who have come before us, those
DO, which reflects what I do every of my degree. The profession has come who have proved they were equal or
day. I do not practice “osteopathy.” a long way, but it could go a lot further better than their allopathic contempo-
If you want to see this profession if our degree were changed to MDO. raries, to disavow the title of DO.
grow in recognition and respect We owe it to the public to change
overnight, modify our degree. Why our degree to a more recognizable enti- Steven R. Daube, DO
should foreign medical graduates get ty as soon as possible. As a matter of An obstetrician and gynecologist,
more name recognition than home- fact, it should have been done many Dr Daube lives in Hinsdale, Ill.
grown physicians? years ago. Nobody but nobody has
more respect and reverence for the Navy voice
Christopher R. DeAngelis, DO osteopathic medical profession than I am a 2005 grad of the Philadelphia
AOA board certified in general inter- I have, but the degree of DO is an College of Osteopathic Medicine and
nal medicine, Dr DeAngelis practices in archaic, generally unrecognized enti- currently serve as a medical officer in
Woodhaven, Mich. ty, even by highly educated and knowl- the US Navy. I know that if I ever lost
edgeable people. my title of DO, I would be extremely
Appreciate our heritage We owe it to the public that we saddened.
Those who are advocating adding serve to change the degree to MDO.
another letter to our DO degree are The public will be the benefactors of Lt Nazima N. Kathiria, DO, MC, USN
totally wrong. It would only add to such a change, and after all is said and Dr Kathiria is the ship’s physician for
the confusion. Going back to practic- done, that is what matters most. the USS Tortuga.
ing osteopathy would solve the identi-
ty problem. Dr Still was an MD and Albert M. Shkane, DO Recognition is in our hands
found something much better that has Retired, Dr Shkane lives in Utica, NY. You quote Norman Gevitz, PhD,
helped millions of patients whom whose book The DOs: Osteopathic
medicine has failed. OMD already taken Medicine in America should be on all
Those who don’t appreciate that I do not think that changing the DO of our bookshelves, as saying that osteo-
rich heritage and the great gift Dr Still degree will help people understand pathic medicine “may well be the best-
gave us should resign from the AOA what a DO is. I am enclosing a clip- kept secret in American health care.”
and join the American Medical Asso- ping of someone who has an OMD Dr Gevitz is correct, but I prefer a
ciation. degree. A change might be confusing different quote from that book: “Iron-
to some. ically, after decades of striving to con-
Harold I. Magoun Jr, DO vince legislators and the public of the
AOA board certified in neuromuscu- Katherine M. England, DO close similarities between DOs and
loskeletal medicine and osteopathic Dr England submitted the name of an MDs, many within the profession now
manipulative medicine, Dr Magoun is acupuncturist whose credentials include see the importance of stressing the dif-
THE DO April 2008 Letters 11
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ferences between the two types of prac- is this philosophy, not a change in Crosby on the money
titioners.” He goes on to say, “Literally degree designation, that will propel The editorial by AOA Executive Direc-
as well as figuratively, the future of osteopathic medicine to the forefront tor John B. Crosby, JD, in the Febru-
osteopathic medicine may ultimately of medical treatment. ary issue, “Disenfranchised DOs: A
rest in the DOs’ own hands—and how Myth in the AOA,” expressed the sen-
they use them.” Nicholas Eugene Perkins, OMS I timents of loyal and extremely proud
As Dr Gevitz points out far more Perkins attends the Lincoln Memorial DOs to a T.
eloquently than I ever could, we do University-DeBusk College of Osteo- In the 40 years I’ve been involved
need better marketing. But the first step pathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tenn. in the AOA, we now have the best and
in marketing is not public relations. It most representative leadership. There’s
is product development. I suggest that Lesson from another field an attempt to involve all those who
rather than waste time worrying about I saw the cover of your magazine that desire to participate and who will fol-
the marketability of our name, we was delivered to my son, a third-year low through with action. From the
spend that time and effort becoming osteopathic medical student, about speaker of the AOA House of Dele-
the best osteopathic physicians we can whether a new degree could lead to gates to the other officers and mem-
be; that is after all what patients real- more respect and recognition, and I bers of the AOA House and AOA
ly want. picked the issue up to read. I thought Board of Trustees, they are approach-
back to early in my career as a lawyer, able, they are listeners, and they are
Robert E. Kessler, DO when my profession faced the same receptive to all the ideas thrown at
AOA board certified in family medicine situation. them.
and in neuromuscular medicine and For years, law schools granted LLB We have a truly great organization
osteopathic manipulative medicine, Dr degrees (bachelor of laws). Just because and are blessed by having Crosby and
Kessler practices in Boulder City, Nev. of the letters in our degree, many did a wonderful staff. It is embarrassing
not realize that we held doctorate that Crosby has to remind DOs that
Philosophy, not letters, important degrees. This included the US govern- they should have pride in their degree.
I recently read in the The DO about ment, which did not want to pay the It seems sad to explain to educated
osteopathic physicians and students appropriate level for someone holding people that pride comes from the worth
wanting to change the designation a doctorate. Law schools throughout they place on themselves and their work
of our professional degree to MDO, the country in the early 1970s started and not from letters behind their names.
DOM, OMD or MD, DO. I must changing to juris doctor degrees (JD).
stress to AOA President Peter B. We found that our education was final- Joseph P. Molnar, DO
Ajluni, DO, and other AOA leaders ly recognized simply because we AOA board certified in family medi-
that this is a terrible idea that would changed the letters of our degree. It cine, Dr Molnar practices in Charles
be nothing but disastrous to our pro- should not have been necessary, but City, Iowa, and is a delegate to the
fession. the world is not always fair. AOA House.
It is no less a part of our profes- My family has always been treated
sional duties to educate the public about by osteopathic physicians, so it would
the practice of osteopathic medicine not change my respect for your pro-
and the designation of DO than it is fession. But if changing the letters in
to educate them on the best practices for your degrees to include MD, DO or How to submit letters
prevention of bacterial transmission. MDO is what is needed to enhance Readers can submit letters for pub-
I feel that the designation of DO is one the respect of osteopathic physicians, lication in The DO by sending e-
of prestige and privilege bestowed upon you should not put it off. mail to email@example.com.
graduates to enable them to practice Alternatively, readers can write to
osteopathic medicine in all its tenants. William G. Schwab, JD Letters to the Editor, c/o Patrick
I believe the goal of the osteopath- Schwab, who practices bankruptcy law Sinco, managing editor, American
ic medical profession should be to con- in Lehighton, Pa, is the father of Brian Osteopathic Association, 142 E
tinue an educational regimen of train- Schwab, OMS III, who attends the Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611-2864.
ing exceptional physicians who con- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic The DO reserves the right to
tinually provide healing and hope to Medicine. edit and shorten letters.
the communities they serve. In time, it
12 Letters THE DO April 2008