Why Consider a Career in Osteopathic Medicine?
Do you want to be the type of physician who sees the patient as more than a
symptom or disease? Do you want to be the kind of physician who gets involved in
his or her community and who spends time getting to know his or her patients as
people? Are you the kind of person who is compassionate, who enjoys meeting and
getting to know a diverse range of people from many different backgrounds and
socioeconomic groups? Are you the kind of person who has solid com-munication
skills and a healing touch? If you answered yes to some or all of these
questions, osteopathic medicine may be a good career option for you.
Generally, osteopathic medical schools are looking for a variety of personal
qualities in the applicants they admit to their schools and, ultimately, to the
osteopathic profession. Osteopathic medical schools admit many nontraditional
students. Typically, these students come to osteopathic medicine as a second
career from a diverse set of backgrounds. Osteopathic medical schools have
admitted students who have been administrators, managers or executives in
attorneys, professional musicians, newspaper reporters, allied health care
providers, and the list goes on. Many of these students have families, and some
are single parents. Admission to osteopathic medical school is competitive and
selective. A person who is well-rounded, has a broad background, demonstrates
the qualities listed above and who has demonstrated academic excellence has the
best chance for admission to osteopathic medical school.
About the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine and Shadowing a DO
(learn what a DO is here)
Colleges of osteopathic medicine encourage applicants to learn more
about the profession by identifying an osteopathic physician to shadow.
Many of the colleges require applicants to get to know a DO and request
a letter of recommendation as part of the application process.
Applicants should meet and spend time shadowing the physician.
This provides the applicant with exposure to the osteopathic profession
and enhances awareness of osteopathic medical philosophy. Working with a
physician will prepare the applicant for the application interview.
Completing this crucial step also demonstrates the applicant’s
commitment to the osteopathic profession.
Students should contact an osteopathic physician before applying for
admission, beginning as early as possible while in undergraduate
The best ways for finding osteopathic physicians include:
• Osteopathic college admission and alumni offices: Admision and alumni
officials at school have many contacts in the osteopathic profession.
Contact them, and let them know that you are looking to shadow and learn
more about becoming an osteopathic physician.
• The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) membership office: The AOA
maintains an online national directory of practicing DOs. A locality
search will give you contact information, and in many cases will link
you to the website of your state’s osteopathic association.
• Contacting state osteopathic associations: Many of the state
associations compile lists of their members who have indicated an
interest in having prospective osteopathic medical students shadow them.
• Your college’s pre-health advisor: Once you have found a doctor near
you, call or send the doctor a letter. (Remember most doctors are very
busy, so please be respectful if you cannot speak directly to the DO.)
If you explain your interest and share your enthusiasm for the
profession, many DOs’ offices will be delighted to host you for a day or
two. They will be able to show you what they do so that you can decide
if you want to study osteopathic medicine.
Current osteopathic medical students are another good source of
information about osteopathic medical education. The colleges have
student ambassador programs, alumni, student government leaders and
members of the Student Osteopathic Medicine Association, all of whom are
eager to talk about their schools with prospective medical students. For
further information, contact the admissions office at the schools in
which you are interested.