With the increasing fragmentation of medical care, it is getting difficult to know if your principal doctor or specialists are medical doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, osteopaths, chiropractors, neuropathic doctors or ???? Now even nurse practitioners, who get a doctor's degree in nursing, are apparently calling themselves "Doctor". (New York Times-8/10/08).
I had an interesting experience a few years ago when I took a bright, professional friend to a doctor's office. She was to have a D and C and was frightened. When we arrived at the office building, we checked the directory to see where the doctor's office was located. I noticed that the doctor had D.O. after her name and asked my friend if she knew that her "doctor" was not an M.D. "No", she said. I don't know what D.O. means." My friend went ahead with the appoinment and had a terrible experience. Needless to say after that experience she always finds out ahead of time the doctor's training, credentials and if they are an M.D. Yes, there are some fine osteopaths who then get an actual M.D. and go through residency training with other M.D.'s and they are good doctors.
If you check the training of any board-certified medical doctor, I think you will find that there is a great difference in the training of most of the other "doctors". Certainly, nurse practitioners have half the number of years of training of an M.D., even if they get a "doctor's " degree in nursing. So every patient must do research. It is your life and you are the one that can make a difference in what kind of a "doctor" you entrust with it.