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D.O.: The Doctor of Osteopathy and Osteopathic Medical Colleges

The Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and a concern for the human patient as a complete entity in their treatment. Osteopathic graduates practice in residencies under t he auspices of either the American Osteopathic Association or the American Medical Association. Different from the M.D., the D.O. practices osteopathic manipulation and puts a special emphasis on primary care. Despite this concentration, D.O.s can enter any medical specialty.

Personal Characteristics and Future Outlook. Most students learn about osteopathic medicine by observing and talking with one or more osteopathic physicians. Osteopathic physicians display the same personal characteristics as allopathic physicians: personal integrity, honesty, compassion, a willingness to learn and an ability to work with the health care team. As the allopathic modes of practice and philosophy move closer to osteopathic principles, the future of osteopathic medicine appears bright.

How to Get into Osteopathic Medical Colleges

Preparation. There are 19 osteopathic medical colleges in the United States. Locations vary with a majority in the Midwest, three in the west, and several in the east. Most osteopathic medical schools require one academic year of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and general physics with their respective laboratories, and English composition. The pre-professions course requirements for every osteopathic school in the United States can be found in The Education of the Osteopathic Physician and the College Information Booklet. Admissions officers also ask for MCAT scores.

Admissions. The submission of your application begins as of June 1st, a year prior to matricul ation, through a standardized service. Similar to AMCAS, The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) prepares an application that details your extracurricular activities, a transcript and a personal statement. The entire application process mirrors that of allopathic schools. An admissions committee evaluates GPA, MCAT scores, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation. Exceptional candidates interview at their schools. Admissions committees of os teopathic schools seek students who have an understanding and a sincere desire to practice the principles of osteopathic medicine. In some cases, the committees do not look favorably on students who apply to both allopathic and osteopathic schools.

Acceptance. Most osteopathic schools practice "rolling admissions" where schools deliver acceptances before processing the entire application pool. Schools notify students of an acceptance, rejection or a place on the wait list within a few weeks o f their interview.

Conclusion. Osteopathic medicine presents challenges that differ from those of allopathic physicians. As it gains acceptance from the public and medical communities, the differences between osteopathic and allopathic medicine will disappear. Despite a difficult path o practice osteopathic medicine, those students who achieve success remain motivated and positive throughout the experience.


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