With the growing popularity of osteopathic medicine, you might be wondering about DO school rankings and how to find the best DO schools. If you are still deciding between , this blog will help you determine whether DO programs are right for you, provide you with a list of DO school rankings, and give you tips on how to stand out in your . This is the same list we share with our students enrolled in our programs to help them decide and we're sure it's going to help you too.
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Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, or DO, is a one of the fastest-growing healthcare professions in the US. If you would like to learn more about the osteopathic medical profession, make sure to read our blog "" To determine if an osteopathic degree is right for you, it is important to consider the mission and values of osteopathic medicine and reflect on whether osteopathic philosophy coincides with the reasons of . Osteopathic medicine preaches a holistic approach to patient care and an emphasis on preventative medicine. DO physicians utilize the diagnosis of and manual manipulation of the neuromusculoskeletal system and stress its interconnectedness with every organ system in the body.
The most distinctive and controversial aspect of osteopathic medicine is osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). It is a non-invasive set of skills that is a key component of DO education. Each DO student completes around 200 hours of OMM training. DOs claim that this hands-on treatment alleviates pain, helps diagnosis, restores motion, supports the body's natural structure, and helps it function more efficiently. The utilization of this treatment is generally met with suspicion from the non-DO medical community, but nevertheless, it remains one of the most important tenets of osteopathic medicine.
The osteopathic medical approach believes that structure influences function. A problem in one part of the body can affect the function of that area and other areas of the body. For example, a problem in the ankle can cause painful symptoms in the knee, hip, spine, or cause symptoms in other seemingly unrelated parts of the body. Osteopathic medicine claims to help relieve painful symptoms and helps to improve the functions of the whole body. Osteopathic medicine also promotes the idea that human bodies have innate abilities to heal themselves. Most osteopathic medical techniques aim to reduce invasive medical techniques and eliminate the impediments that prevent bodies to self-heal and function properly.
Main tenets of osteopathic medicine:
1. The body is a unit. A person is a unity of body, mind, and spirit.
2. The body is capable of self-healing, self-regulation, and health maintenance.
3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
Admission Requirements and Curriculum
Once you consider the philosophical approach of osteopathic medicine, you will need to familiarize yourself with DO’s training and practice. It is important to know DO’s admission requirements and curriculum to understand what the life of a DO student looks like and see whether you measure up.
According to , although applicant selection for osteopathic programs is fairly competitive, they are generally much easier to get into than MD programs. Whether it’s the DO or the , DO programs typically have lower admission requirements than allopathic medical schools. Many of the osteopathic programs in the US are some of the .
Overall Average GPA for Accepted Students
Average MCAT score
Osteopathic schools pride themselves on accepting students from all walks of life. Many matriculants into DO programs have non-traditional backgrounds and come to osteopathic medicine as a second career from a diverse set of experiences. To be accepted, you must meet some science and non-science , including:
- One year of biology
- One year of physics
- Two years of organic chemistry with lab (this can include organic, inorganic, and biochemistry)
- The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) programs’ handbook also specifies that one year of English composition is preferred.
In general, MD and DO programs have similar curricula divided into four years. DO programs provide training to prepare students for a variety of specialties, while the majority of DOs end up in primary care. The first two years of training focus on the biomedical and clinical sciences and the second two years focus on patient-oriented clinical training.
Clinical education follows a distributive model in which DO students get to practice medicine in different health care settings. These include in-hospital experiences, as well as training in community hospitals and out-of-hospital ambulatory settings. Students in many DO programs are required to participate in community-based primary care rotations in rural or underserved areas.
The Residency Match
You might be wondering how a DO degree will affect your chances of matching with your desired specialty and program. Based on recent data from the National Residency Match Program (NRMP), having a DO rather than an MD does decrease your chances of matching. According to the NRMP Main Residency Match, DO students experience lower success rates of matching compared to MD graduates for the majority of specialties, in both . For example, even though DOs are competitive in primary care residencies where they have strong acceptance rates, they still have much lower acceptance rates than MDs. According to the latest statistics, in the state of New York, DO seniors matched 136 residency spots in internal medicine, while MD seniors matched 576 spots. The same trend can be observed in other primary care specialties such as pediatrics. While 176 MDs matched to residency spots in pediatrics in New York, only 44 DOs were matched in the same specialty.
With this said, following the new unified graduate medical education accreditation system, the process of matching for DOs is becoming easier. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) grants accreditation to residency programs for both MDs and DOs. Graduate programs previously accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) only are now accredited by ACGME, which levels the playing field between DO and MD graduates. This unified GME accreditation system makes the application and participation process for DO graduates much easier than before. It puts osteopathic graduates in many of the same programs as MDs. This system broadens opportunities for osteopathic graduates to participate in GME programs along with MDs.
Do you want to learn more about osteopathic medicine? Watch our video:
The following list of osteopathic schools contains important admissions information, including overall acceptance rate, number of matriculants per year, average MCAT score, and GPA. You can organize the table from highest to lowest acceptance rates, MCAT, or GPA by clicking on the appropriate section at the top of the table. You can also use the toggles to hide any information that you find impertinent.
California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine (CHSU-COM) – admissions information is unavailable.
Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (SHSU-COM) – this August will mark the start of SHSU’s first class.
Check out our video for the highlights:
Let’s look at some strategies on how to increase your chances of getting into a DO program.
Osteopathic medical schools require applicants to submit a personal statement as part of the DO school application. Just like the length of the , the AACOMAS personal statement is limited to 5,300 characters including spaces. This should provide plenty of space to tell your unique story of why you chose to apply to a DO program. Remember, if you’re applying to both MD and DO programs, do not simply repeat your MD personal statement. Your DO essay should be personalized and rewritten for the osteopathic program, because ultimately, DO programs will want to know why you’re choosing to become an osteopath, rather than an allopath. Before you write your DO personal statement, get an idea of what kinds of applicants DO programs admit. Check out the list of from AACOM’s official website.
Firstly, your statement should address your personal, academic, professional, volunteer and other experiences in relation to the principal tenets of osteopathic medicine, which I listed above. Remember, it is always better to go for quality over quantity, so choose one to three of your strongest experiences and build your personal statement around them. You must show the admissions committees that you are the perfect DO candidate for their school, rather than someone who is simply trying to get any medical school to accept them. To do this, your personal statement must distinguish you as a dedicated student and follower of the osteopathic medical approach.
Your personal statement must demonstrate your knowledge of and experience in osteopathic medicine, and most importantly, how it shaped your choice to practice medicine as a DO. Remember, the DO philosophy markets itself as a holistic approach to medicine. Instead of focusing on a patient’s disease or disability, osteopathic medicine aims to consider the patient as a unity of body, mind, soul, and even the patient’s environment. In your personal statement, try incorporating and emphasizing the moral-ethical, social, and environmental factors of the relationship between the physician and the patient. This is an important component of osteopathic philosophy, so be sure to reflect on how your own experiences are in line with DO philosophy. Bear in mind, it is always better to show your relationship to osteopathy, rather than simply talk about it. It is not enough to simply say that osteopathic tenets interest you, you must be able to back your personal statement claims with evidence. Be ready to outline your path to osteopathic medicine by bringing in concrete examples of your involvement in and dedication to osteopathic philosophy. Be sure to check out our blog for some high-quality and other .
Perhaps you are wondering what kind of experiences should be included in your DO personal statement. These are completely up to you – this is your story. A good writer can compose a compelling statement from a variety of experiences, including:
• Personal and family history
• Background and diversity
• Academic history and accomplishments
• Volunteer and work experiences
• Extracurricular activities
• Skills and unique talents
This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you a start to reflect on your own experiences. Most importantly, remember that your personal statement should reveal a unique story of how you came to osteopathic medicine.
are highly valued by DO programs. Although it might be obvious to state, if you’re planning to apply to DO programs, try to select extracurriculars that would directly benefit your chances of getting into osteopathic schools. Instead of reaching out to MDs to get necessary experiences for medical school applications, reach out to DOs. For example, make sure you get clinical experience working with a DO doctor, rather than only an MD. Working or volunteering with a DO physician in a clinical setting will show admission committees that a) you are a dedicated advocate of osteopathic medicine b) you have seen and experienced what the DO profession will be like c) you have been exposed to the practice of osteopathic medicine. If you are looking to shadow a physician, make sure you shadow a DO. Learn and .
Research is a wonderful extracurricular activity, and it will be even more valuable in your osteopathic medical school application if you have a DO angle, i.e. a research project under the leadership of a DO principal investigator or helping a DO physician with his or her research. This will, yet again, show your dedication to the development of osteopathic medicine and your desire to increase its prestige.
Your other extracurricular activities may include community service, teaching, publications, awards, and hobbies. Reflect on how these activities and accomplishments furthered your knowledge of osteopathy and your desire to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Remember, what will give you an edge in DO medical school applications is your participation in and dedication to osteopathic medicine. To stand out against hundreds of candidates, be sure to demonstrate that DO is your number one choice, rather than a fallback option. To do this, try to get involved in DO clinical practice and research as soon as you can. Work to have extracurriculars that would emphasize your dedication to osteopathic medicine.
As a DO applicant, you must have support from other professionals in the field. For your AACOMAS application, have at least one DO recommender. Having only MD is not going to be enough. Plus, a lack of DO representation among your recommenders will be a red flag. DO admissions committees might question your sincerity to become an osteopathic physician if you do not have a DO professional supporting your candidacy for the program. If your referee asks you to create a draft of your recommendation letter, learn .
First and foremost, you must determine if osteopathic medicine and its philosophy is right for you. Indeed, DO programs are still met with a certain level of skepticism. DO graduates do have a tougher time matching to residency spots and generally have less choice when it comes to medical specialties. However, DO programs' reputation and presence in the medical field are growing exponentially, especially in the US. Additionally, the majority of patients cannot tell the difference between a practicing MD and a practicing DO as they both have the same responsibilities and clinical abilities. Your choice to apply to DO should stem from a genuine interest in this medical career and a dedication to patient treatment. With your application, you will have to convince DO admissions committees that you are not just seeking an easier way into a medical school. If you get invited to an interview to a DO school, there is a chance that many of the will test the sincerity of your desire to become a DO. Although DO programs tend to be less competitive than MD, do not treat your DO medical school applications lightly. Your lack of sincerity and interest will be evident if you are negligent with regards to your DO application. Even if a DO program is not your number one choice, your goal should be to have strong DO-centric application components, including your personal statement, extracurriculars, recommendation letters, and, eventually, osteopathic .
1. My medical experiences and recommendations relate to allopathic medicine. For my DO applications, wouldn’t it be more impressive to have an MD referee and allopathic clinical experience?
While it’s great to have MD clinical experience, as well as support from the allopathic medical community, for your DO applications it is vital to have osteopathic experience and at least one DO recommendation letter. Remember, to stand out as a perfect candidate, you must show your dedication to osteopathic medicine and its core values. If you apply to a DO program having only MD clinical experience, shadowing, and extracurriculars, why would a DO program believe in your interest?
2. Do osteopathic physicians have the same practicing rights as MDs?
Yes, DO doctors can write prescriptions, order tests, and have the same practice privileges and responsibilities as MDs.
3. Can I be a practicing DO in Canada?
Yes, you can, but there are no DO , so you will need to get your degree in another country. After you complete your DO degree and residency, you must apply through the Provincial or Territorial College of Medicine for medical practice. Each province has different regulations and requirements to obtain a medical license in that province. Be sure to check to learn more. Some provinces will require the Medical Council of Canada examinations (MCCQE), while others accept USMLE and COMLEX exams. If you are looking to attend medical schools in the United States, make sure to read our blogs about .
4. How competitive are DO graduates for residency spots?
As I mentioned before, DOs tend to have lower matching rates than MDs. However, the single GME accreditation system promises to equalize matching opportunities for MDs and DOs. The graduate medical accreditation system allows graduates of osteopathic and allopathic medical schools to complete residency and fellowship education in ACGME-accredited programs with a focus on common competencies and consistent evaluation. According to AACOM, this system recognizes the unique principles and practices of osteopathic medicine and ensures that osteopathic students and graduates have unrestricted access to training opportunities in the specialties and locations of their choosing. It will also provide new training opportunities for MDs in osteopathic principles and practices.
5. As a DO, what kind of licensing exams must I write to match to my preferred residency program?
Each graduate program sets its own selection criteria, including examinations. While some programs accept the osteopathic licensing exam COMLEX-USA, most DOs who want to participate in the allopathic Match will have to take the USMLEs. Make sure to reach out to your program of choice to find out what selection factors they prioritize.
6. Are osteopathic medical schools more expensive than MD programs?
Generally, DO and MD programs’ costs are comparable. MD tuition costs in private schools average around $60,000, while private DO programs cost around $53,500. MD public schools’ tuition for in-state students is around $37,556 and $60,000 for out-of-state applicants. DO public schools’ programs cost around $30,833 for in-state students and $56,671 for out-of-state students.
7. What is the easiest DO medical school to get into?
Based on overall acceptance rates, Lincoln Memorial University, DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) is the easiest DO school to get into.
8. Do DO programs accept Canadians?
Yes, many do accept Canadians. If you are a Canadian citizen, ensure you reach out to your desired DO program and ask them how they evaluate Canadians. Do they treat Canadian students as out-of-state (friendlier) or international students (not as friendly)? You can also ask if they have taken any Canadians in the last 1 or 2 cycles and how many.
9. How do I shadow a DO in Canada?
There are DOs who completed their education in the US and now practice in Canada. While it is certainly more challenging than shadowing a DO in the US, this is an important part of your application and you must show initiative. You can seek out DO graduates in your local area by looking online, at your university’s faculty, or searching networking sites like LinkedIn. You may also need to be comfortable traveling a bit out of town to shadow if the nearest DO is not too close, so consider setting up a shadowing block of 1 or 2 weeks rather than aiming for a few hours weekly for several months or years. You will probably need to do this well in advance of applying so you have time to find a DO to shadow. So, think about doing this at least 1 year in advance of your application so you can get everything organized.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo