Temi Ogunleye is a 4th year DO candidate at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at New Mexico State University. You can follow him on instagram.
The majority of Americans are unaware that two different medical schools exist in the US. As a pre-medical student, you are sometimes too busy studying for MCAT, volunteering/shadowing, and securing LORs even to have time to educate yourself on this. Allopathic (MD) and osteopathic medical schools (DO) both teach medical students the scientific foundations that they need to become licensed physicians but take different approaches
- MD – Allopathic medical education is a science-based approach focused on diagnosing and treating medical conditions.
- DO – Osteopathic medical education emphasizes preventive medicine, body structure, and osteopathic manipulative treatments (OMT). It takes on a more holistic approach to medicine and utilizes principles of self-healing and the body’s ability to self regulate. Just like MDs, DOs are licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe medications, and perform surgery in all 50 states and can specialize in any field of medicine but also utilize OMT as a primary healing tool.
- Osteopathic medical students undergo an additional 200 hours of coursework to learn OMT on top of the general medical curriculum. OMT is a hands-on method that involves manipulating muscles and joints to promote healing. One main philosophy is that the body functions as a unit, and there is a critical relationship between structure and function. An abnormality in one system can alter the function of another system, sometimes all symptoms.
- More than half of osteopathic graduates enter primary care compared to about 25% of allopathic graduates
- 2020 Residency merger – Beginning with the class of 2020, DO and MD residencies undergo single accreditation. What this means is that US MDs, DOs, and IMGs will all train under one system.
- Before 2020 DOs had their residences that were accredited by a separate governing body. MDs (US and IMGs) could not apply to these spots, but DOs could apply to traditional MD residencies. The merger creates opportunities for both sides and allows for a more efficient graduate medical education system in the United States
- As a child, I hated taking oral medications. This experience made me want to be a physician that didn’t want his patients to go through that. Osteopathic medicine was interesting to me because the physicians I shadowed as a pre-medical student sought other ways other than medications to treat patients.
- Trains you to look at the body as a whole. Don’t look at one symptom or complaints but see how those symptoms affect the whole patient.
- The stigma is changing, but some residency programs look at DOs as inferior, especially for some of the more competitive specialties. This means as a DO student, you will need to work 2x as hard as your MD counterpart. If you are a competitive DO applicant, you will have no problem matching into any specialty
Another Option: IMG
- International medical graduate (IMG) – also known as a foreign medical graduate (FMG) – is a physician who graduated from medical schools outside the United States. For an IMG to become licensed in the US, they need to complete and pass all USMLE exams. Once this is done, they can obtain the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification and can apply for and complete a US residency.
- Make your decision not based on a degree but based on what you typically look at when you are selecting schools ( your statistics, location, research productivity, faculty mentorship, residencies affiliated with the school). If your main goal is to become a physician, increase your chances of getting in by applying to both MD and DO schools
- DO, or MD doesn’t matter and won’t affect patient care. MDs and DOs work together every day and are equally respected in the community. When you see a patient, they won’t know or care about the difference. They want to be cared for and know that you are a good and competent physician.