There are various medical schools in Ohio, but the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine is the only osteopathic school in the state. Being the only DO school in Ohio means it is not one of the easiest medical schools to get into. The school stretches across three campuses in the state – Athens, Dublin, and Cleveland – and offers a single DO degree program, along with several dual-degree tracks. The school also prides itself on its mission to help serve medically underserved rural communities in Ohio and the US.
This article will detail all the important admissions requirements, important dates to remember, and how to prepare your osteopathic medical school application.
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“The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) educates physicians committed to practice in Ohio, emphasizes primary care, engages in focused research, and embraces both Appalachian and urban communities. Integral to this mission, the OU-HCOM community commits itself to providing a clinically integrated, learning-centered, osteopathic medical education continuum for students, interns, residents, and fellows; embracing diversity and public service; and improving the health and well-being of underserved populations.”
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The school makes clear its mission to help medically underserved communities living in rural populations. If you are someone who wants to practice in the city or is more comfortable in an urban setting, then the OU-HCOM may not be to your liking. But if you are looking for a change of scenery and are passionate about the equal distribution of high-quality health care, then you should inquire further.
Overall Acceptance Rate: 24%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 23%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 1.8%
Average Overall GPA of Matriculants: 3.68
Average Overall Science GPA of Matriculants: 3.62
Average Overall Non-Science GPA of Matriculants: 3.77
Average MCAT Score: 504.50
If you are wondering, “do I need a graduate degree to get into medical school?”, OU-HCOM has no preference for students with a Master’s or PhD, so you do not need to have one before you apply. The school has several graduate-level classes for students to pursue a master’s or PhD along with a DO degree, but 17% of first year matriculants in the DO program have a graduate degree.
A majority of first year matriculants at the school had a science background (79%) in a recent year, while 21% did not, which should encourage anyone thinking about how to get into medical school without a science background.
OU-HCOM is publicly funded, so it has a mandate to accept or show preference for Ohio residents when considering applications. Although the school does accept out-of-state and international students, the latter must be naturalized US citizens or permanent residents. Out-of-state residents can apply but they must also meet unique entrance requirements, like having at least a 3.25 Science GPA and composite MCAT score of at least 498.
International or non-resident applicants must also have completed either a degree from an accredited US institution or earned 90 credits at the same or similar institution to be considered. Non-resident applicants, if accepted into the medical school, must also sign a residency commitment or “contract of admission” to practice medicine in Ohio for at least five years. About two-thirds (60%) of graduates from OU-HCOM practice in Ohio, thereby fulfilling the original mission of the school to provide primary care physicians to residents of the state.
MCAT and GPA
Recommended (not required) GPA: 3.6
Recommended (not required) MCAT: 125 (for each MCAT subsection)
Although there is no official medical school GPA requirement or MCAT cut-off, OU-HCOM does emphasize that applications are judged mostly on academics, even though it also states that it reviews all applications holistically. If you are thinking about how to get into medical school with a low GPA, you should either apply to another school or take recommended courses and get at least a C grade to improve your chances with the OU-HCOM admissions committee.
OU-HCOM considers all previous courses and grades, so it does take into account your graduate school GPA. It requires students to submit all relevant academic information, even if you only took one course or semester at any post-secondary institution. While the school admits that it eliminates many applicants due to an unsatisfactory GPA score, it does not say whether it allows rejected applicants to reapply. One medical school requirement that the school makes clear is that only MCAT scores from within three years of the student’s application date will be considered.
Coursework and Undergrad
One of the mandatory entry requirements for all potential applicants to OU-HCOM is that they have a four-year bachelor’s degree from a US institution (the school does not mention accepting credit or courses from medical schools in Canada). If they do not have a completed degree, the school states that successfully completing three years of a four-year degree may also be accepted if they have exceptional grades. Students must have completed at least 75% of a four-year degree or 90 credits.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
OU-HCOM does have a list of required coursework all applicants must complete before applying. The minimum grade for all these courses is C or higher, and the grade must be sustained over each of the four years of the degree.
The recommended courses students should take before matriculating include:
AACOMAS Experiences and Achievements
AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) is used by this school and many others for its osteopathic medical school applications. Like other nationally recognized application services, such as TMDSAS and AMCAS, AACOMAS has its own application requirements.
OU-HCOM does not make any explicit mention of what qualities or attributes they show preference for other than:
- Ohio residents
- Applicants with a bachelor’s degree
- An average GPA of 3.68
- MCAT score of 504
Personal Statement/Application Essays
A mandatory part of submitting an application to OU-HCOM is the AACOMAS personal statement. Although similar to the AMCAS personal statement or TMDSAS personal statement, there are some differences as well. Personal statements tend to follow a standard formula, including:
- Writing about formative experiences
- Explaining why you want to become a doctor
- Discussing what you hope to achieve in the future as a doctor
AACOMAS has formatting rules that every applicant must follow to successfully write and submit their personal statement:
- 5,300-character limit
- Write your statement directly in the online field instead of writing it in some other program
- Proofread your statement before sending it
Personal Statement Example
I remember running as fast as I could as the screams faded in the background. I was running from a lot of things. I was running to get help from where my father had just collapsed from a minor heart attack. I was running from the idea that he might not make it. I didn’t know it then, but I was also running toward something – my future – as it was that event that ultimately led me to the realization that I wanted to become a doctor.
When I got to the house, I knew that calling an ambulance was not an option, as it would take too long to reach our remote area. I called my father’s doctor in town, but there was no answer. I realized that I would have to drive my father to the local hospital if he was going to have a chance.
I was only 17 at the time, and I had never been to the hospital. When we pulled up, I was amazed at how everyone worked so fast to help my father. The medical staff were people from the community, and their professionalism and calm impressed me. My father survived, thankfully, but the most interesting part to me was what followed: the doctors and nurses at the hospital spoke at length with my father about steps he could take to improve his health, rather than just prescribing him medicine and walking away.
My father was a walking stereotype of unhealthy behavior: a heavy smoker, heavy drinker, and poor eater. He believed that working the farm kept him in good shape, and, in some ways, it did. But he ignored all the other aspects of his health and thought that because he didn’t feel bad, he was fine. Fortunately, the osteopaths at the hospital took the time to explain how changing his lifestyle habits could help him live longer.
Unfortunately, even with all their helpful advice, my father only lived another five years. When he died, his doctor, Dr. Walter Cox, came to our house after the funeral. Dr. Cox was a pillar of the community and still made house calls. He talked to us, grieved with us, and comforted my mother. He told me to call on him if I ever needed something.
We buried my father next to his parents on our property. As I contemplated his gravestone and the places set aside for those next in line, I realized that I did not want my path to follow his. I wanted to be the one who saved lives and keep gravestones from popping up on family farms.
Shortly thereafter, I talked to Dr. Cox about my goals, and he suggested that I shadow him for a few months to see how he treated and interacted with patients. I noticed that he never judged or talked down to them but accepted the factors that led to their ailments while still giving his best advice.
Dr. Cox is the one who urged me to start preparing early if I wanted to apply to medical school. I took premed courses in chemistry and biology and sought tutoring to help me with physics courses to improve my grades. I also took courses in microbiology and zoology to broaden my knowledge.
However, when my mother fell ill, I had to take a year off from my studies, as there was no one else to take care of her. Being there for my mother during her decline was my introduction to patient care. I had to organize her medication and help her with everything from eating, dressing, and going to the bathroom (she was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer) to supporting her and keeping her company.
Although it was a distressing time, I became so wrapped up in establishing and following a routine that I did not allow myself to feel anything. I thought that regulating my emotions and keeping things professional was what doctors were supposed to do. But helping my mother in her last years made me realize that patients do not want to be treated by an unfeeling doctor. This is perhaps the aspect of osteopathic medicine that I appreciate the most, as in addition to becoming a well-trained, qualified doctor, I know I will be encouraged to maintain my humanity while treating the whole patient.
I went back to school after my mother passed and started studying for the MCAT, more motivated than ever to excel and complete all my coursework. I credit my parents with this renewed conviction and sense of purpose I feel, because I know that one day, I will be able to help someone avoid a similar outcome. I know that becoming an osteopath is the path I should take to achieve that goal.
Medical school secondary essay examples could help you sharpen your writing skills, especially for when you need to submit your secondary application directly to OU-HCOM. The secondary essays for a DO school application usually revolve around a specific prompt (an ethical or hypothetical question, for example) and are used to shine a light on your critical thinking skills, creativity, and writing skills.
Secondary Essay Example
Prompt: In your own words, define altruism and provide an example or two where you exhibited altruistic behavior in your past activities. (600 words or less)
Altruism is sacrifice. Altruism is putting others ahead of yourself, which I feel is the main motivation of every doctor or medical profession. But altruism is also scary. It goes against our nature for self-preservation and self-gratification, which are qualities that are often at odds with altruism.
How to balance then, our own needs against our moral responsibility to others, to society, and to the world at large. I think that answer was something I was thinking about when I started my undergraduate degree. I remember feeling intimidated by university and the amount of work and study involved in any university degree, let alone a medical degree.
I was always a good student and prided myself on my love for school, but even those qualities seemed like not enough to handle all the stress, work, and study. When I started taking my electives in behavioral sciences, I felt relieved to be taking a non-science course. I looked forward to reading about how societies treat, view, and sometimes marginalize the ill, often unfairly.
My behavioral sciences courses in anthropology and cognitive science raised questions about why individuals act the way they do, while medical and bioethics courses helped me think about how to weigh the interests of patients against the greater interests of the public. These questions were put into focus when the COVID-19 pandemic made real how medicine and science are often put in the uncomfortable position of protecting public health while having to suspend the rights of the individual.
When school closed and classes went online, I felt a mixture of relief and dread. I was relieved to be out of school and not have to deal with my anxiety, but I also found it difficult to focus while working from home, trying not to think about the respiratory illness that was killing millions. It was then that I stumbled on the perfect solution for me to not only relieve my anxiety but also put someone before myself.
A fellow student reached out to me asking for help. He was having difficulty understanding or interpreting a text by Emile Durkheim assigned in our Introduction to Sociology course. My colleague had told me that several students from our class were struggling with the text. I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to prioritize others. I told all my colleagues that I was available to tutor anyone who needed help understanding Durkheim’s texts.
I created a Zoom meeting room and invited everyone in the class to attend the virtual tutoring session. It created a new sense of purpose for me. I used my skills and knowledge to help others, especially when I didn’t need to, but it was the right thing to do. I felt more involved in their achievements, even though I was sacrificing my own time and energy. It was worth it. From then on, I always made myself available to my fellow students whenever they needed help, not only to understand a text, but to have someone to study with and to have support in a difficult or trying time.
OU-HCOM makes all applicants submit at least two medical school recommendation letters, which is a normal requirement of all medical schools, allopathic or osteopathic. The letters must either be written by:
- The applicant’s pre-professional committee, pre-professional advisor (one letter)
- Science faculty (two letters)
- Osteopathic doctor (recommended, but not required)
If the applicant’s school has a pre-professional committee, they need to submit only one letter. If there is no pre-professional committee, students can submit two letters from professors from the science faculty, preferably from someone who has taught them. In addition, students can attach a letter from an osteopathic doctor if they have a longstanding relationship with them or know them well.
OU-HCOM interviews are conducted with potential applicants over eight months (September to May) and consist of:
- An interview/information session with current students
- An interview with a three-person panel (DO faculty member, basic science faculty member (PhD), school administrator)
OU-HCOM only asks for one interview, and the format is different from the typical multiple mini-interview (MMI). Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the school has been holding virtual interviews. While this is not the traditional way of conducting medical school interviews, it does have advantages, like helping students avoid travel and housing costs to attend the interview if they are from out-of-state.
Interview questions encountered by current and former students of OU-HCOM during their entrance interviews include standard medical school interview questions like the “tell me about yourself” medical school interview question, “why do you want to become a doctor?”, “why do you want to be a DO?”, and “why did you choose this school?”
Sample Question and Answer
Prompt: Tell us about a time you dealt with conflict in the workplace. How did you go about resolving it?
I worked at a furniture store during summers off from school. I worked in the call center for the company, so I had to deal with a lot of angry customers calling about their late or damaged deliveries. It was part of the job, and I didn’t mind it. I was more worried about my colleague, Rob, who sat at the desk next to me.
Rob was a big, quiet man. He didn’t talk to me outside of exchanging pleasantries, and I wanted to change that. I didn’t want to have to spend all day next to someone and not have any interaction with them. I had become friendly with almost everyone, but Rob seemed to be uninterested with making small talk or even acknowledging my presence.
I knew I wanted to do something to ingratiate myself with Rob, but I hadn’t figured it out yet. But, one day, while we were fielding calls, I started grabbing my cheeks, which is a nervous tic I have. I kept doing this every time I was on the phone and I didn’t think anyone was watching. I only realized that I was being watched when I put down the receiver and looked across my desk to see the confused look on Rob’s face, which, when we locked eyes turned to an amused look.
“What are you doing?”, he asked, trying to suppress a laugh.
“It’s something I do when I’m nervous, or just to keep my hands busy.”
Rob listened to my answer and then started to mockingly imitate me, which got me cracking up and, in turn, led him to start laughing. Then the ice broke. I found out that Rob was as much a dork as I was and we got along great for the rest of my time there.
I realized that being yourself is the best way to reach people. Being yourself meaning that you should strive to always be authentic and never put up pretenses to appease other people. I think being honest and transparent with people is the best way to not only resolve any conflict but also get them to let down their guard.
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
AACOMAS takes between two to four weeks to consider applications. The service notifies the OU-HCOM admissions committee of successful applications. The school then contacts these applicants with information to create their account for the school’s online portal, where they submit their secondary application, consisting of recommendation letters, transcripts, and secondary essays.
After they complete their interviews, some students may worry about they will hear back from medical school interviews. Fortunately, the school informs students of its decision the next business day. Students are either given an offer, placed on a waitlist, or rejected.
The school does not state whether they encourage students to take specific steps to get off the waitlist, like writing and sending a follow-up medical school letter of intent, but if you do end up on the waitlist, they suggest contacting the Office of Admissions for more pointed feedback on your application and to give you tips on how to get off a medical school waitlist.
Tuition and Debt
In-State Tuition: $37,068
Out-of-State Tuition: $52,864
Annual In-State Fees (lab fees, student services, computer access): $2,532
Annual Out-of-State Fees (lab fees, student services, computer access): $2,532
Annual Non-Tuition Costs for All Students: $31,936
Average Level of Student Debt for Graduates: $233,339
OU-HCOM offers several funding opportunities for qualified applicants to pay for the costs of medical school, which are significant, given the previous section. In a recent year, over $6.5 million was disbursed to students via internal and external scholarships, with almost 400 students benefitting from these scholarships. OU-HCOM is not one of the cheapest medical schools to get into, even for Ohio residents, which is why there are various internal scholarships that can offset your expenses if you’ve been wondering how much does medical school cost.
An online scholarship portal, where students can browse the scholarships on offer, is available to those who have been accepted to the program and have set up an account. Students can browse every available internal scholarship and view the eligibility requirements for each one here.
The school also suggests that students who are in a branch of the military (Army, Navy, or Coast Guard) enquire about whether the military can help pay for medical school through their various scholarship programs.
Residency Match Rates
OU-HCOM scores very high on its match rate success for graduates. It often reaches a near-perfect 99% match rate, with an historic average of 54% of graduates going into primary care (family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine) as their primary specialty.
Over the years, students have matched to residencies all over the country but a majority (59%) have, historically, decided to practice in Ohio. Of all the students the school has graduated since 1980, 50% have chosen to practice primary care somewhere else in the United States or in other specialties.
Review of Available Programs
1. Pathways to Health and Wellness Curriculum
The PHWC is the school’s four-year osteopathic program that offers students preclinical and clinical segments. They become familiar with the basics of osteopathic medicine and then put those concepts into practice, whether in the lab during the first two years or directly with patients when they undergo clinical rotations at one of the school’s various clinical sites.
2. Transformative Care Continuum
This accelerated path gives students interested primarily in family medicine the opportunity to complete their degree and be automatically matched with a residency at either the Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Family Health Center or Cleveland Clinic Akron General. The accelerated path is also taken with the standard four-year PHWC program. The program selects eight first year students but does not state why or what makes a student eligible for this program, other than a commitment to practicing family medicine in Ohio.
3. Rural and Urban Scholars Pathways (RUSP)
Randall Longenecker, MD, and assistant dean of rural and underserved programs, created this program to address the shortage of primary care physicians in underserved areas of Ohio and other parts of the US. This pathway combines foundational osteopathic training with specialized courses in how to practice and interact with patients in these settings. The pathway is open to both current and matriculated students who must specify before November 1st of the semester year that they want to apply.
4. Early Assurance Program
The school also offers an Early Assurance Program to exceptional high-school students to either take an accelerated 4 + 3 pathway (4 years of undergrad, 3 years of medical school) or a typical 4 + 4 pathway (4 years of undergrad, 4 years of medical school). This program has several eligibility requirements, such as being accepted into one of the school’s partner schools for an undergrad degree, submitting all paperwork on time, and obtaining and maintaining an SAT score of 1300 and a cumulative high school GPA in the range of 3.5–4. Students accepted into the EAP can skip taking the MCAT, so they do not have to hire an MCAT tutor or take an MCAT prep course.
Dual Degree Programs
The school gives eligible students the ability to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy while also taking a four-year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. The combined degree takes seven years in total and lets students choose a specialty field based on their research interests, while also letting them choose a specific mentor from among the school’s faculty. Interested students must submit GRE scores and attend an interview with a department representative. The exact course curriculum and pathway depends on the student’s research interests. DO/PhD students also have the opportunity to apply for research grants and fellowships in their third year.
The combined DO and Master of Business Administration gives eligible students the chance to earn their osteopathic degree while pursuing an in-depth education in business administration. The degree trains students in the skills essential to creating, managing, or stewarding a business in the health care industry while also giving them a foundation in osteopathic principles so that they can apply them to business decisions instead of being driven only by profit or growth.
3. DO/MS in Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineering comprises several different fields and applications, which is why it is such an in-demand degree. Biomedical engineers create new imaging machines like the MRI or CT scan, or craft prostheses for people in need. Students who take the combined DO/MSBE can complete their four-year degree in osteopathy while also taking credits in courses such as Biomechanics, Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering and Biomedical Information Processing to complete the five-year degree.
Completing a Master of Public Health requires touching on complex but relevant issues of health care delivery, public health policies, and inequities in health care, based on race, gender, or geographic location. Students enrolled at OU-HCOM can apply to this combined degree program in their first or second years but must meet the admission requirements of the Master of Public Health program. The program lasts for five years, and students must complete a total of 42 credit hours to graduate successfully.
The Master of Global Health lets students with an interest in global health care take a five-year degree to pursue osteopathic medicine and then move on to tackle health challenges worldwide. Students can apply when they are enrolled in the traditional four-year, DO program, but they must apply directly to the Office of Advanced Studies, which will approve their application or not. After approval, students meet with degree advisors to chart a specific course curriculum around their particular interests while also taking foundational courses like Fundamentals in Global Health and Globalization and Health.
Detailed Academic Curriculum of the MD or DO program
The four-year DO program at OC-HCOM is split into two sections:
- Preclinical education
- Clinical education
The preclinical section comprises the fundamentals of osteopathic medicine, with courses such as the Osteopathic Approach to Patient Care, which clearly delineates the difference between an MD vs DO. The first two years of the program feature other foundational courses while incrementally introducing new subjects or giving students the chance to apply their knowledge in lab work or with patients.
The clinical side of the four-year program is when students begin their clinical rotations in any of the school’s affiliated teaching hospitals. Students meet and treat patients while being supervised by program faculty, and they go further in expanding their service, diagnostic, and therapeutic skills. Students also learn by attending professional development classes, lectures, or sitting in on medical decision board meetings.
Campus and Faculty
The entire Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine stretches over three campuses located in Dublin, Athens, and Cleveland, Ohio, but there are five other Ohio University satellite campuses around the state. Each of the three medical school locations house specific departments, but applicants can choose to study at any of the campuses or whichever is best for them and their commute, if they commute.
OU-HCOM has several on-campus research institutes that attract graduates from the school itself, but also attract talent from other schools in other countries. The list of research interests is always topped by primary care, since a majority of OU-HCOM graduates enter primary care medicine in pediatrics or family or internal medicine. But the school also has dedicated research institutes that broach various interdisciplinary fields:
- The Diabetes Institute
- The Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute
- Infections and Tropical Disease Institute
Tyree Winters, DO
A graduate of OU-HCOM, Dr. Tyree Winters has been christened the “hip hop doctor” for his melding of pediatrics and hip hop, which sees him dancing with his patients in the waiting room. The DO Heritage College executive dean and Ohio University chief medical affairs officer, Ken Johnson, has said that Winters is “the embodiment of compassionate care.”
Known for his patient interaction skills, Dr. Winters is the current director of the pediatric residency program at Goryeb Children’s Hospital-Atlantic Health System in Morristown, NJ. He is also clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Sidney Kimmel College of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. What makes Dr. Winters notable is his commitment to racial equality and social justice in medicine, which is what inspired him to join the Association of Pediatric Program Directors, to advance inclusiveness and confront racism in medicine.
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine – OU-HCOM
191 West Union Street, Suite 167
Athens, OH 45701
Main phone: (800) 345-1560
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (800) 345-1560
Fax: (740) 593-2256
4180 Warrensville Center Road
Warrensville Heights, OH 44122
Admissions Email: [email protected]
Admissions Phone: (216) 295-7941
6775 Bobcat Way
Dublin, OH 43016
Admissions Email: [email protected]
Admissions Phone: (614) 793-5570
1. Do I need to submit MCAT scores to get in?
Yes, the school has an explicit MCAT requirement, and it states that up front. Successful matriculants should have at least 504, but the school reviews applications holistically, so all elements of your application matter.
2. Are there fees to apply to OU/HCOM?
Yes, students must pay application fees for their secondary application, which is a non-refundable $60.
3. What kind of interviews does the school have?
The school uses traditional interviews divided into two sections. One set of “interviews” is with current students who give you a tour of the campus and answer any questions you have, while the second section is with a panel made up of a faculty member, a practicing osteopathic doctor, and a school administrator.
4. When will I know whether I’m accepted into the program?
Students are notified the next day after their interview if they have been accepted or not. Some students are rejected, but others are placed on a waiting list in case a spot opens up.
5. Does the school have a GPA cut-off?
Officially, it does not, but unofficially the school makes a point of saying that successful graduates have an overall GPA of 3.68, with an emphasis on science GPA 3.62.
6. Can I retake the MCAT if needed?
Yes, you can take the MCAT again to improve your score or to reach the 504.50 threshold that the school sets. The school does accept MCAT scores as old as three years.
7. Will my application be affected if it is late?
Yes, a late application will either be not accepted or judged poorly compared to other applicants who submitted their application on time.
8. What is a pre-professional health committee?
A pre-professional health committee is a panel of science faculty members from your undergraduate school who can write letters of recommendation on your behalf to get into medical school.
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