Osteopathic Medicine

The Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is the terminal degree for osteopathic physicians. Osteopathic medicine was developed in the 1870s by a physician who felt there was undue focus on disease at the expense of preventative care and treating illness within the context of the whole body. Osteopathic physicians are trained in the same way as MDs, with the addition of information about osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medical students may choose to take the US MD or DO board exams (required for residency) and may compete for both types of residencies. They can practice in all of the same venues as MDs, including conducting research, teaching, managing health care facilities, and developing health care policy, but they are more likely to take on patient care roles. (Learn more from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine).

Prerequisites: Check individual schools. Often include:

  • General Chemistry with lab (2 semesters)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (1 semester)
  • Physics with lab (2 semesters)
  • Introductory Biology with lab (2 semesters)
  • Biochemistry (1 semester)
  • Math: 1 semester calculus, 1 semester statistics
  • English (2 semesters)

For more details see HPA Prehealth Preparation: Academic Preparation

Prerequisites and preparation are the same as they are for allopathic medicine with one addition: some osteopathic medical schools may require a letter of recommendation from a DO.

To find a DO to shadow: DoctorsThatDO.org

Application logistics:

  • Begin working with HPA in the fall, two years before intended entry.
  • Apply in June, about 16 months before intended entry.
  • The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is the required standardized test and comprises four sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior. See HPA Pre-Health Preparation: Standardized Tests
  • Apply to most schools through the AACOM Application Service (AACOMAS). Application opens in early May.  Separate applications to certain schools in Texas (TMDSAS).
  • Medical schools prefer/require a committee letter of recommendation. See HPA Application Process: Committee Letter.

Find a program: AACOM Choose DO Explorer website

For more information: