As Massachusetts’ largest employer, Partners HealthCare employs more than 74,000 individuals with a wide range of talents and a myriad of job functions across our System. Michael R. Jaff, DO, President of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, is one of 30 physicians with that particular credential among the hospital’s 1,000 medical doctors. And though DOs—doctors of osteopathic medicine—were less common among residents at the country’s top hospitals when Dr. Jaff completed his medical training years ago, the MD/DO distinction is one whose lines are increasingly blurred today. 

“There are plenty of very well-known MD programs that now routinely seek out and accept DO trainees and members,” explains Dr. Jaff. 

With rising enrollments at osteopathic medical schools and merging medical accreditation systems and residencies, DOs are likely to be encountered more frequently by patients seeking care. The difference between DOs and MDs is one of philosophy; while DOs receive conventional medical training, Osteopathic Medical Education also leans heavily on holistic approaches to care, approaching patients with a full picture of mind, body, and spirit. Though that holistic approach at times includes osteopathic manipulative treatment called OMT or OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine), Dr. Jaff says that the practice, particularly by specialists (Dr. Jaff is also a practicing vascular medicine specialist) is waning.

“My sub-specialty training is so highly focused on vascular diseases that I’ve never used it in my clinical practice,” he explains. 

Still, Dr. Jaff adds, the patient-focused approach of osteopathic medicine is more relevant than ever, given Partners’ shift to care models that encompass factors such as social determinants of health.

“At the end of the day, Osteopathic Medicine fully embraces Population Health—a commonly used phrase in Accountable Care Organizations across the United States to manage the entire scope of a patient’s care.  Including comprehensive care with management of mental health, family, and home environments are all part of what Partners Healthcare concentrates on,” shared Dr. Jaff.

Read more at WBUR.

Topics: Patient Experience, Clinical Training, Health Professions

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