Allopathic and Osteopathic Medicine

Allopathic Medicine - Overview of the Profession

Allopathic physicians receive an MD. Their responsibilities are various and relate to the maintenance of health, including both acute care and prevention. Allopathic physicians can choose to practice in a number of different specialty areas, as well as build a career in teaching or research.

Specialty Areas

After medical school, all physicians are required to complete further training. It is at this time that they will choose the clinical area which they hope to pursue in more depth. A physician may choose from a number of different specialties that will vary in terms of the number of years of post-graduate training required.

Practice Areas

Physicians practice in a number of different settings including private practice, group practice, academics, research, HMOs, clinics, industry, military, or government.

Education

Medical school is four years in length. Typically, the first two years concentrate on didactic learning of the basic sciences and the second two years focus on clinical training in the hospital. There is however some cross over and integration of the two across the four years. After completion of medical school physicians will generally enter residency training programs that range from 3 – 8 years.

Prerequisites

Please see section on Premedical Curriculum. Many medical schools have unique requirements. The Preprofessional Advising Office compliled a list of the required and recommended courses for different medical schools across the Unites States. That list is available here.

Admission

Admission to medical school is extremely competitive. Please see section About Applying or more detailed information.

Osteopathic Medicine -Overview of the Profession

According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), “Osteopathic medicine is a distinctive form of medical practice in the United States. Osteopathic physicians use all of the tools and technology available to modern medicine with the added benefits of a holistic philosophy and a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Doctors of osteopathic medicine emphasize helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention and disease prevention.”

Practice Areas

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.s) are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. In practical terms, the D.O. and the M.D. receive the same license, practice medicine in exactly the same ways, and share the same medical rights and privileges. Osteopathic physicians are usually encouraged to pursue primary care. However, they may receive training for a variety of medical specialties, from Psychiatry to Neurosurgery, and many D.O.s do pursue specialization.

Education

There are currently 25 colleges of osteopathic medicine, offering instruction at 31 locations in 22 states. Osteopathic medical students study all of the basic and clinical sciences expected for mastery of medicine plus approximately 200 additional hours of training in the art of osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic schools emphasize the idea that structure influences function and therefore if a problem exists in one part of the body’s structure the function in that area and in other closely aligned areas may be affected.

Prerequisites

See Premedical Curriculum

Admission

Osteopathic Medical School is quite competitive, but typically these schools receive fewer applications than allopathic schools. Therefore, as a result students with slightly lower grades and MCAT scores may find that their prospects at Osteopathic schools may be greater. Premedical students should not, however, regard osteopathic schools as “safety” schools.

Osteopathic colleges place a great deal of emphasis on an applicant's knowledge of the osteopathic professions. They look for a combination of experience and motivation typically characteristic of a good doctor. Beyond that, admissions committees want to know why applicants are specifically interested in osteopathy. Many osteopathic schools require a letter of recommendation from an osteopath as part of the application; many practicing D.O.s are willing to write such a letter, provided that applicants observe their osteopathic clinic and discuss the profession.

It is acceptable for aspiring doctors to apply to both allopathic and osteopathic schools; many applicants do. Please refer to About Applying for more information on the specific processes and procedures.

In addition to comparing locations and costs of schools, students who are accepted to both M.D. and D.O. programs should carefully consider which training best suits their medical career plans.

Resources

Association of American Medical Colleges

American Medical Association

Preprofessional Advising

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