Many students who apply to DO medical schools wonder whether the osteopathic medical school interview process is much different from the MD interview process. This can be especially important to know if you are applying to both MD and DO medical schools. While the interview process is quite similar, you should know what to expect from your DO interview and how to prepare for questions geared towards assessing your fit for osteopathic medicine specifically. In today’s blog, we will go over the unique aspects of the DO medical school interview process and help you prepare by providing sample osteopathic medical school interview questions and expert answers.

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Is Osteopathic Medical School Interview Different from MD Interview?

According to the latest DO school rankings, many osteopathic medicinal schools in the United States are just as competitive as MD programs. While some of them may be on the list of easiest medical schools to get into, this should not make you think that these schools’ interview processes are a piece of cake. Some students may mistakenly think that because a medical school has lower GPA or MCAT expectations, the interview process will not require much prep. This is absolutely untrue. Medical school interviews, whether for MD or DO programs, are intimidating and challenging and deserve your utmost attention and hard prep work.

DO schools use the same interview formats as MD schools. Later in this blog, we will outline which formats each DO school uses, but we should mention at the outset that preparing for a DO interview is not going to be much different from how to prepare for any medical school interview when it comes to the steps you must take to get ready. This means confirming the interview format, participating in mock medical school interviews, and practicing answering sample medical school interview questions. However, the content of your answers will differ slightly. In addition to demonstrating to the interview committee why you want to become a doctor, you must also demonstrate why you want to be a DO doctor. And this will require additional preparation.

Just like your AACOMAS application, your interview answers must show that you took the necessary steps to familiarize yourself with osteopathic medicine. Your answers must emphasize how your experiences and skills are in line with the osteopathic medical profession, not just allopathic medical philosophy. While the two are closely linked, the DO interview committee will want to know what your experiences taught you about patient care and how it ties to why you want to be an osteopath specifically. It is true that you may use the same experience to explain that you want to be any doctor, whether it’s DO or MD, but to convince your interviewers in the DO program that you are the right fit, you should emphasize how an experience led you to the decision to pursue osteopathy. 

To really prepare for this, you must first and foremost learn and agree with the main tenets of osteopathic medicine. Knowing these and practicing your DO interview answers with these in mind will help you articulate strong responses. The truth is that DO professionals do not want to simply hear that you have read the tenets and like them. Actions speak louder than words, so if you truly want to practice this type of medicine, show the interviewers what steps you took to develop this mindset. Demonstrate which of your activities influenced your desire to work as a DO. We will show the process of forming your osteopathic medical school interview answers below when we provide you with sample questions and answers but be prepared to demonstrate your proclivity for osteopathic medicine and its philosophy in the interview.

If you're still debating if DO school is right for you, check out this infographic outlining the main differences between DOs and MDs:

Before we start with sample questions, I’d like to reiterate that DO interviews incorporate many of the same interview questions as MD programs, such as “why our program?”, “why should we choose you?”, “what is your greatest weakness?”, and so on. Feel free to practice with any medical school interview questions as you prepare for your osteopathic med school interview. However, the questions we outlined below should help you prepare for specifically DO-oriented inquiries.

Now, let’s get to some sample questions and responses, as well as clear answer strategies you can implement.

Sample Question #1: Why Do You Want to Be a DO Doctor?

Answer Strategy:

Be ready for this question. It can be phrased in dozens of different ways, but it will certainly come up in your interview. You are inevitably going to be asked why you want to pursue osteopathic medicine specifically. Remember that your answers to other common medical school interview questions like “tell me about yourself” may also incorporate experiences and reasons that demonstrate why you ended up at an interview to a DO school, but your answer to the question “why you want to be an osteopath” must give a clear and concise picture of why you are choosing to be an osteopath over being an MD or other medical professional.

Not being able to give a convincing answer can only hurt your chances for acceptance. Remember that admission committees hear hundreds of answers to this question during a single application cycle, so your answer must be memorable. Follow the structure below to formulate your answer:

Be sure to use the “show, don’t tell” strategy for your answer. The more vivid and illustrative your answer is, the better. A great answer to this question can truly set you apart from other candidates, so make sure to prepare a stellar response. Now let’s have a look at a sample answer.

Sample answer:

“Everything in my life changed on March 21, 20XX, when my little brother was diagnosed with leukemia. I was a 15-year-old student facing the news of my sick brother along with the tsunami of change that came with my move to the United States as an international student. My first 4 months at X high school consisted of weeks attending class and acclimatizing to the new environment followed by long weekends back home in Mexico sleeping in a hospital chair next to my brother who was undergoing a strong treatment that his little body could barely handle. Seeing the treatment ravage his body, I questioned if medicine would ever be a correct path for me. A few weeks passed, and I started to see the benefits of treatment. It was a riveting and exciting sight. I now appreciated the possibilities of medical care. A team of doctors was able to develop a treatment plan that helped my brother survive and my family is eternally grateful for this. With this experience came my first interest and passion for medicine.

But after his stay at the hospital, my brother was hardly recognizable. He was just a shadow of his former self and his recovery after the treatment took longer than his chemotherapy. My parents were struggling to find help to get my brother back on his feet. This triggered my curiosity about whether we can improve our forms of care to salvage the rest of the body while the treatment is doing its job.

As years passed, this experience stayed with my family. When I started college in New York, I began my weekly visits at X Children’s Hospital, both inspiring and being inspired by the children. This symbiotic relationship allowed me to grow as a pre-med student and an aspiring physician, figuring out how to use my history with oncology and apply it in a clinical setting. I knew I wanted to develop vital skills and test drive a career in medicine in a clinical setting before applying to medical school, so I slowly began getting more involved at X Children’s Hospital. My relationships with patients and colleagues led me to take the initiative and pursue the opportunity to become a medical scribe. Within a few days of graduation, I accepted the scribe position for an esteemed DO physician, Dr. Y, at X Children’s Hospital. 

On my first day on the job, I was documenting a visit with a young boy who had recently gotten the news of a complete leukemia remission. I felt similar emotions on that day that I did when we heard about my brother’s remission: relief and hope. I spent the entire visit observing Dr. Y and his actions, from explaining further treatment options to steps to full recovery. His attention to the boy and his family, his kind and patient-centered approach solidified my decision to pursue osteopathic medicine specifically.

This boy’s story greatly reminded me of my brother’s struggle to return to normal life. We come from an underprivileged background where post-treatment was not an option. My family struggled to find help as my brother returned to his normal self. My experience with Dr. Y demonstrated that for a physician, a patient interaction can be more than a one-off event. It is a continuous relationship that helps the patient upkeep healthy habits, prevent further illness, and have someone to turn to if they need medical help. As a future physician, I look forward to being that person for my patients: a reliable and empathic professional who can help them live their healthiest lives. I am aware of both paths in medicine, and I would be glad to pursue my medical goals via either path, but I believe that osteopathy is the future of medicine and patient-centered treatment.”

Are you wondering what DO actually stands for? Check out this video:

Sample Question #2: What Other Medical Schools Have You Applied to? Have You Applied to MD Programs?

Answer Strategy:

This is a very common question whether you are interviewing with MD or DO programs. What the interviewers really want to know by asking this question is whether you know what you want from your medical school education. All med schools know that you applied to several institutions, so there is no need to lie that you are not considering any other schools. What you need to reveal with your answer is why you applied where you did. For example, are you interested in research and applied to research-intensive schools? Or do you want to practice in a rural area when you become a licensed physician? Then maybe you applied to programs that have rotations and electives that take place in remote and rural communities. Be very specific about why you applied to your chosen schools, but do not be too complimentary to any of them.

If you are applying to both MD and DO programs, be prepared to talk about this if you are asked what other schools you applied to. Many students apply to both, so it's not going to be a surprise for DO admissions committees. The key to explaining why you applied to both is not to focus on the allopathic and osteopathic philosophies, but on the schools to which you applied specifically. Instead of jumping into a long discussion about why you like both philosophies, focus on explaining why certain MD schools attracted your attention and why certain DO schools attracted your attention. For example, you can say the X MD program and X DO program both offered opportunities to work with underprivileged populations during rotations, a type of community you hope to continue working with as a practicing physician. You can choose to address the schools’ curriculums and the unique courses and rotations you may be able to experience in both MD and DO programs. Remember to talk about the mission statements of the MD and DO schools you applied to and that you concentrated on the schools’ goals and opportunities they provide rather than their philosophical tenets when you were applying.

Sample Answer:

“I applied to several in-state and out-of-state medical schools, including allopathic and osteopathic programs. I focused on the mission and goals of the school when I created my school list. My premed clinical and volunteer experiences in primary medicine solidified my goal to become a primary care physician in remote areas, so I looked for institutions that would provide me with more opportunities to keep growing in this field. A, B, C schools have a great reputation for preparing physicians in primary specialties, while X, Y, Z schools help students gain experience working with underserved communities in X state. Why I particularly seek admission to your program is the opportunity you provide to travel to the most Northern regions of our continent to experience practice in remote communities. It would be a remarkable chance to grow as a physician and learn new skills I hope to apply when I am in residency.”

Interested in a summary of how you can answer some of the most common osteopathic medical school interview questions? This infographic should help:

Sample Question #3: Uncomfortable Questions About the Reputation of Osteopathic Medicine

Answer Strategy

You may be asked questions about people's perceptions and ignorance of what osteopathy stands for. For example, "How do you deal with criticism of osteopathic medicine?", "How do you deal with people who call osteopathy a pseudoscience?", and similar questions. While these questions are not guaranteed to be asked at every osteopathic medical school interview, you should know how to answer them in case you face such inquiries. Your answer should demonstrate that while there is still some ignorance with regards to what osteopathic physicians do and represent, DO medicine is one of the fastest-growing professional careers in the United States. Do your research! In your answer, emphasize the highly selective admissions process and the high standards and quality of osteopathic medical care. This will show that you are aware of the qualifications and standards associated with osteopathic education and that you understand that osteopathic medicine is catching up to MD's reputation and presence in the workforce.

Sample Answer:

"In recent years, osteopathic medicine has become one of the fastest-growing professional fields in the United States. According to the latest data, the number of applications to DO schools increased by 19.26% in the last year! And while the general public may still have misconceptions about what does DO stand for, the reputation and awareness of osteopathic medicine continues to grow. With it, the selection process for DO schools is becoming just as competitive and selective as for MD schools. The gap between DO and MD GPA and MCAT requirements continues to shrink, while more and more DOs are represented in primary care specialties, as well as surgical specialties according to the latest NRMP match data

I am proud to be on the frontlines of this transformation as more of the patient population becomes aware of all the benefits of osteopathic medicine. The gradual increase of DO representation in the medical field is a welcome change as we continue to struggle to fill the shortage of primary care specialists in our country. I will be proud to represent osteopathic medicine as a practicing doctor and to help bring awareness of osteopathic medicine to the general public.”

Still unsure if DO school or MD school will be best for you? Take a look at this video:

List of DO Medical School Interview Formats

One of the first steps in preparing for a medical school interview is confirming what format it will take. Below is the list of all 37 osteopathic medical schools and their interview formats. Make sure to check the interview format with your chosen schools as this information is often changed and modified to fit the current admissions cycle.

You need to know the interview format not only to learn how long to prepare for a medical school interview or what type of skills you will be asked to demonstrate but also to learn what kind of mock medical school interviews to participate in. If you have an MMI interview or a traditional interview that incorporates MMI stations, make sure to prepare for its unique format. Make sure to practice with different station types, such as acting stations, writing stations, and collaborative stations. Do not forget to prepare answer strategies for ethical questions in a medical school interview, as they are becoming increasingly popular with admissions committees. No matter what format your interview takes, make sure to experience the interview format firsthand in a mock, realistic setting.

Conclusion

A word of caution: if you are applying to DO schools as a backup and you are not truly interested in being a DO, the admissions committees will be able to detect this. This does not mean that you must lie and say that you have always wanted to be a DO physician and that you have dreamt of this since childhood. But you are expected to demonstrate a conscious and willing decision to become a DO. If the interviewers see your indifference to osteopathic philosophy or your ignorance of its main tenets, then you are not likely to be accepted to this school. You do not have to recite the philosophical mission of osteopathic medicine to make a great impression. All you need to demonstrate is that you made an aware choice to learn and practice medicine as an osteopath. In your interview, show the admissions committee what formed this decision; this could be volunteer experiences or shadowing experiences, as well as patient interactions or your extracurriculars outside of medicine.

An osteopathic medical school interview is not much different from an MD interview. Make sure to prepare with mock medical school interviews and come with a variety of experiences you can talk about to showcase your passion for medicine and osteopathic medicine in particular.

Getting ready for your interview? Check out an MMI interview example led by one of our expert admissions consultants:

FAQs

1. Is osteopathic medical school interview different from MD interview?

They are not very different in format or your prep tactics, but you should prepare for some specific DO interview questions that we list in our blog.

2. What kind of interview formats do osteopathic medical schools use?

Osteopathic medical school interviews can be in the traditional one-on-one format, panel format, or MMI format. Please use the list in this blog to determine which interview format your schools of choice use.

3. What kind of questions should I expect in a DO interview?

You can expect common med school interview questions like “tell me about yourself” or “what extracurriculars influenced your choice to become a physician?”, but you should also prepare for some DO-specific questions like “why do you want to be an osteopathic doctor?”

4. How should I answer questions about why I want to become a DO doctor?

We outline a solid answer strategy for this question in this blog, so please scroll up to see how to answer it and review our sample response.

5. Do many students apply to both MD and DO schools?

It is very common for medical school applicants to apply to both MD and DO programs, as most look for the right fit in terms of academic and career goals rather than medical philosophy. You can openly discuss your school choices in the interview if such a question comes up. However, do not show outward preference to either philosophy in the interview, rather focusing on why the schools you applied to are the perfect fit for your career goals. 

6. What is the best way to prepare for a DO medical school interview?

The best way to prepare for any medical school interview is by participating in mock med school interviews that mimic your interview format and by practicing answering sample questions.

7. What kind of experiences should I use in my interview answers?

If possible, emphasize any experiences that align with the DO tenets. Your experiences do not have to be directly associated with osteopathic medicine, but rather than focusing on the experience itself, focus on the qualities and skills you developed via the experience. Make sure to learn what kind of qualities are valued by DO schools, so you know exactly which aptitudes to emphasize.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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