allopathic vs. osteopathic

So, I am currently compiling a list of medical schools that I plan to apply to for 2010. As I am reading though previous threads it appears that what school you go to plays a part into selection for residency, in addition to step score and grades. As a non-trad I was hoping to have a nice group of osteopathic schools as well as allopathic schools to apply to. So here is my question:

Are students from allopathic schools given preference for surgical residencies? What if I end up going to a nice small osteopathic school like Western States. If I did really well there and had good step scores would I be competitive for residencies?

I guess this may seem like an odd thing to be thinking so far ahead, I am probably just over thinking things (which I tend to do)

Thanks for any input!

There is no preference of DO or MD for residency spots. This is a practice that has been long gone. DO/MD you get the same consideration for all residency spots.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you are saying this is too early to think about. Concentrate on the here and the now.

Thanks gabelman! I had kinda given up on any replies to this thread. I had already concluded what you recommended, focusing on the here and now. It doesn’t really matter what my medical interests are if I can’t get into medical school.

On that note, I have more chemistry to study for my MCAT.

For the most part, what Gabe said is spot-on. Where you go to med school is very minor factor in where you end up as a resident. By far, the major factors are: clinical grades, boards scores, letters of recommendation and your interviews. “Competitive” is highly variable tangent upon what specialty you are seeking & the selectivity of the individual programs. For example, IM, FP & Peds are notoriously not competitive specialties to match into. However, within the mass of IM, FP & Peds programs, there are individual programs who will be very competitive. As a general rule, anesthesia, rads & surgery are much more competitive across the board. Within that aggregate of programs are extremely competitive programs. On the ultra-competitive level (neurosurg, plastics, GI, derm, optho), they will demand very high board scores, very high clinical & non-clinical grades, top-ranking in your graduating class and some will mandate research & desire some publications. In all of this, where you went to med school is a pretty minor player, unless a specific program has a history of prefering to match internally - from the med school with which they are associated.

Part & parcel to this, the well-flogged horse of MD vs. DO & state-program vs. Ivy-/private-programs are mythologies. Yes, in specific circumstances, “where” may provide a slight edge. However, the overwhelming advantage will go to the person who has clearly demonstrated their “competitiveness” for their chosen specialty. The reason a program attains the status of “elite” is because they only take them people who will perpetuate their elite reputation and that does not necessarily coorelate with who has the silver spoon.


Thanks so much for the input. I have learned so much from what everyone has posted in the forums. This has been a great resource and I am happy to have stumbled upon it. It is great to know that I can be elated just to get in without having to stress about whether I get into the “right” school.

getting into residency is about who you know. there are osteopathic students that get into amazing surgical residencies but many did rotations at that program. I am a pgy2 and when my class applied they said it was hard to even get rotations at some california programs. Some parts of the country still hold prejudice.


  • Lanskyb Said:
getting into residency is about who you know. there are osteopathic students that get into amazing surgical residencies but many did rotations at that program. I am a pgy2 and when my class applied they said it was hard to even get rotations at some california programs. Some parts of the country still hold prejudice.


I disagree - it is not about who you know. It is all about your performance and the academic capital that YOU have EARNED through hard work, dedication and being a self-starter. Who you know or the name of where you attend + $2 will get you a cup of coffee in the hospital cafeteria.

If you want to land a slot in a competitive specialty or a slot in an individually-competitive program, you have to earn it - there is no other way. You will hear a lot of BS about legacy and having connections, while those things may earn you an interview (MAYBE) if you have less-than-competitive numbers, they will rarely, if ever, secure a slot. The fact of the matter is, all training programs are under tremendous pressure to produce and cover responsibilities. This has become even more critical with the work hours restructions. No program worth it's salt is willing to allocate a precious resource - a slot in their program - to a dirtclod simply because mom or dad trained there, they went to Harvard or other such crap.

Landing a competitive residency slot is a whole different kettle of fish. What they look for is the ability, willingness & self-discipline to do a shitload of hardwork & long hours. To bring in someone who feels "entitled" risks them being so disruptive that many folks become unhappy with a concomitant decrease in qulaity & quantity of work - completely unacceptable.

Furthermore, one of the primary sources of capital/credibility/statu s in the world of training programs is their reputation. They live & die by the quality of their graduates. Elite programs can RAPIDLY loose their reputation in a matter of a couple of years for things that do not appear "monumental".

So, while it is a common lament among Ugrads & med students that for a collection of extraneous reasons 1, 2 or 3 that YOU cannot succeed in accomplishing goal x, y or z - it is totally untrue. You will go only as far as you EARN in this game. And, in my opinion (this comment is not directed at anyone specfically), the people who parrot these mythologies fall into 2 categories: those who lack the confidence to dare and those who seek external causations to justify succumbing to intimidation.

This is 500% about internalizing your locus of control, aligning your chi and taking the bull by horns to force you will upon him. If you find yourself laying blame on external causalities - you severely need to look in the mirror and see why role your decisions are playing in your personal & professional struggles.


What a great post! I am finishing my prereqs as a post-bacc. student. My goal is to get into a D.O. school and then practice pediatric surgery, but I have not been able to find any D.O.'s in this specialty. Do you know of any? Again, thanks for the great post.


There are several ways to research this, but (unless things have changed) none of them are specifically designed to index this data conveniently - further evidence that no one beyond the pre-med years give a rat’s ass about MD vs. DO. Contact the national societies for pediatric surgeons & ask them if they have any DOs on their rosters & if you may have their contact info. You can also contact the AOA & AMA and ask if any of their members have listed themselves as both pediatric surgeon and DO.

Before I came to realize how little the impact of DO vs. MD was, I did this same thing when I was thinking in terms of either pediatric cardiologist or pediatric intensivist. I was rewarded with a lost of approx 12 or so of each and was told by all the societies I contacted that was not something they typically referenced members by. Furthermore, since that info was not an indexing parameter they used, they had no idea how accurate the sampling was…in other words, do not make the inference that since we could only find a dozen or so, do not decide that this verges on impossible.

On a side note, I e-mailed (where available) and smail-mailed all of them with a litany of questions & rec’d a net response of approx 50%, which is a pretty damned good return. A couple of each were open to further contact & mentored me until I decided to not pursue either discipline. It was a very worthwhile experience and potentially yielded multiple high-yield networking opportunities had I remained on that professional tact. Furthermore, each & every one of them clearly stated they had not felt any sort of disadvantage relating to their DO-ness.

Regarding pediatric surgery: have you investigated how low & how competitive this tract is? As I understand it, you must complete an entire adult GS residency (5 to 6 years - 5 if you can opt of your research year) and then do a 3 or 4 year pediatric surgery fellowship - 12 to 24 most of research typically required. There are very few slots nationwide in these fellowships and they are TOUGH to land. But, in my opinion, pediatric surgeons are the “can do all” folks of the surgical world.

Best of luck & success to you!