Osteopathic Physician

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are fully licensed physicians who provide a full range of services, from prescribing drugs to performing surgery, and they use the latest medical tools. DOs are trained to (from the AOA):

  • teach patients how to prevent illness and injury by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • look at the whole person to reach a diagnosis without focusing just on symptoms.
  • help the body to heal itself.
  • believe that all parts of the body work together and influence one another. DOs are specially trained in the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system (muscles and bones).
  • perform osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), a hands-on approach to diagnosing, treating, and preventing illness or injury.

DO versus MD

DOs attend four year medical colleges just like MDs.  They receive the same traditional comprehensive medical training with an emphasis on disease prevention and treatment of the whole patient, instead of treating the disease alone.  In addition, DOs receive over 200 hours of training in manipulative techniques and diagnosis.   DOs can specialize in any type of medicine and compete with MDs for positions in MD residency programs. There also are residency programs specifically for DOs.  Most DOs (over 60%) become primary care physicians.  In fact, although only 5% of all physicians are DOs, over 10% of all primary care physicians are DOs.

D.O. Medical Colleges

There are 30 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the US (as opposed to 134 MD programs).  The two in Florida are Nova Southeastern University (in Davie) and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Bradenton).  In 2011, there were 110,872 applications submitted for the 5,788 seats in DO schools (the number of applications submitted and seats have increased over the last few years).  The mean overall GPA of matriculants in 2011 was 3.5, and their mean MCAT score was 26.5.

Applying to DO Colleges

The prerequisites for DO programs are the same as for MD schools (1 year each of Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, English and possibly Biochemistry).  They also require an MCAT score and some medically-related experience. Most schools also require a letter from an osteopathic physician. Applications are submitted through an online system called AACOMAS.

How to find out more?

-American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

-American Osteopathic Association

-the DO school application service (AACOMAS)