Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)

The percentage of doctors in osteopathic medicine has greatly increased in the United States.  There are over 60,000 osteopathic physicians in active practice throughout the country with nearly one in five medical students in the United States attending an osteopathic school.  They are trained in every medical and surgical specialty and are licensed to perform the same work as M.D.s.  Students preparing for osteopathic medical school follow the typical premed curriculum which differs in no way from that of other premed students.  Osteopathic medical school is a four-year program very similar to allopathic medical school, but including an additional training sequence in 'manipulative' therapy, traditionally the hallmark of osteopathic medicine.  The major difference between osteopathic (D.O.) and allopathic (M.D.) medicine is that a higher percentage of osteopathic physicians practice general or family medicine (compared to allopathic physicians).  

Medical Exposure

Osteopathic School Admissions Committees consider applicants with work experience with an osteopathic physician to be highly desirable candidates.  Applicants are encouraged to explore the osteopathic field either by employment or in a volunteer capacity by shadowing, observing, interning, or working with a practicing osteopathic physician.  The primary objective is to ensure that you are familiar with the scope of the profession and to assure the Admissions Committee that you are making an informed decision. 

Application Information

Applications are submitted online through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS), the only centralized application service for students applying to osteopathic school.  Similar to online central application services for medicine, AACOMAS offers students a convenient way to research and apply to multiple osteopathic schools with a single online application.  Please refer to the AACOMAS website for a complete list of participating osteopathic schools.  The MCAT is required for admission into osteopathic school and students should apply at the earliest possible date, which varies by school.  Applicants who appear to qualify and meet academic standards are sent a supplemental (or secondary) application, allowing their candidacy to move forward.  Please note that your application for admission to most osteopathic schools will not be complete until they receive BOTH the AACOMAS and supplemental application.  In addition, an applicant is required to submit letters of recommendation from two (2) science professors familiar with work accomplished.  Further, some schools might request a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician.


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