The M.D. and D.O. degrees will both allow you to practice medicine as a doctor in the United States. However, there are several important differences you should keep in mind when deciding whether to apply to allopathic or osteopathic medical schools.
Osteopathic medicine was founded in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Since then, D.O. schooling has gained some momentum – there are now over 30 D.O. schools in the U.S. and they constitute approximately 20% of all medical students enrolled in the United States.
As for differences, there are several important considerations:
The curriculum between D.O. and M.D. medical schools is nearly identical, with the exception of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM for short). Osteopathic schools require 300-500 hours of additional OMM training on top of the regular science content you would learn during your pre-clinical and clerkship years as a medical student.
In allopathic medical schools, you take the USMLE Step exams. In osteopathic medical schools, you take the COMLEX exams. However, the more important difference to note is with regards to getting into the two types of medical schools.
Osteopathic medical school matriculants have lower average MCAT and lower average GPA than their allopathic medical school counterparts. This means it is less competitive to get into D.O. schools.
3) Disadvantages of D.O. School
Unfortunately, the D.O. is not respected to the same degree as the M.D. I believe this comes down to two factors: first, less competitive students, on average, pursue the D.O. track. Second, the pseudo-science surrounding certain practices, like craniosacral therapy, doesn’t exactly engender a sense of confidence and competence.
Who Should Apply to Osteopathic Medical Schools?
Ultimately, there are 3 good reasons to apply to D.O. schools over M.D. schools
1) You’re interested in OMM
2) You’re going into primary care or less competitive specialties
3) Your GPA and/or MCAT are low
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Disclaimer: Content of this video is my opinion and does not constitute medical advice. The content and associated links provide general information for general educational purposes only. Use of this information is strictly at your own risk. Kevin Jubbal, M.D. and Med School Insiders LLC will not assume any liability for direct or indirect losses or damages that may result from the use of information contained in this video including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.