Tips to Polish Your Osteopathic Medical School Application

There are more similarities than differences between the M.D. and D.O. pathways into physician careers. However, the application process for each type of program is different.

Understanding M.D. Versus D.O.

There are more similarities than differences between the M.D. and D.O. pathways into physician careers.  Allopathicmedical schools grant M.D. degrees.  Osteopathic medical schools grant D.O. degrees, or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. Both M.D. and D.O. programs can lead to a career as a physician, however the application process for each type of program is different.  M.D. programs ask applicants to submit their credentials and essays via the AMCAS, American Medical College Application Service.  AMCAS is a digital application portal that is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. D.O. programs utilize the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service, known as AACOMAS.

Application Mistakes to Avoid

Despite the similarities between the M.D. and D.O. pathways into physician careers, osteopathic admissions teams know when an applicant is not familiar with osteopathic medicine. D.O. medicine emphasizes hands-on therapies.  If you are applying to both M.D. and D.O. programs, you should ensure that your D.O. applications convey an interest in hands-on therapies. The personal statement component of a D.O. application is an opportunity for you to explain why you are interested in getting an osteopathic medical education. Take caution- osteopathic medical school admissions teams can sense a lack of enthusiasm. If you are truly excited about receiving osteopathic training, then you are advised to apply to osteopathic schools. It is a mistake for you to copy and paste whatever personal statement you used for the AMCAS application into your AACOMAS application.

How to Polish Your D.O. Application

D.O. programs include some coursework that is distinct from that of M.D. programs. Osteopathic medical school applicants should consider conducting research into the history and philosophy of osteopathic medicine. D.O. medical school admission teams like to see evidence that you have a serious interest in osteopathic medicine. For example, if you shadowed an osteopathic physician or had an osteopathic physician write a recommendation letter. Another important way to demonstrate interest in osteopathic medicine in a D.O. application is to discuss osteopathic medicine in the personal statement. Osteopathic medical schools use a holistic admissions process. That means that these schools examine the entirety of an application before making an admissions decision. Osteopathic medical school applicants should carefully fill out all sections of the application. A high GPA, specifically in the sciences, and MCAT scores are two of the most important components to a strong application.  However, admissions teams also look for well-rounded applicants who display good communication and leadership skills. Relevant experience like hospital volunteer work or shadowing a D.O. is important.

Written by Amy Sellars

Independent Education Consultant - Medical School Admissions Advisor

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