Apply DO?

I am 100% interested in DO schools and have decided to apply to them exclusively (as long as i do well on the MCAT) and i was wondering how others faired in either application to DO or MD?
Did you find any issues, were you shunned from more MD schools than DO?
What was your experience?

Howdy Mike!
I didn’t (and still don’t) care about the distinction between MD and DO. I just wanted to be a doctor. I applied and interviewed at both flavors. I got accepted at several out of state DO schools and my in-state MD school (Texas does a strange match type thing). I didn’t get an interview at TCOM so, from a tuition standpoint, the decision was made for me.
I never ran into any issues either way. There are lots of DOs at my current hospital, an allopathic medical school. Really, other than a few snotty medical students, I never saw anyone judge any physician by anything other than their competence or personality (i.e. jerks).
My advice is to do what I did and cast a wide net. After interviewing with different schools, you’ll find one you like.
Good luck!
Take care,

For me, I am really committed to the D.O. route and won’t be applying to any M.D. programs. My instinctive feeling about this from what I know about both D.O. and M.D. programs is that someone with a real reason for choosing the D.0. route over the M.D. route is more likely to get accepted to a D.O. program. So my advice is figure out which of the two you want and set it as a goal. While it is true that once you’re out of medical school it doesn’t make much difference, to my way of thinking if you’re going to become a D.O. and then go on and do your residency and specialty training and work in an M.D. dominated environment, then any benefits of a more holistic approach will be wasted anyway. I don’t mean to sound unfriendly at all and hope you don’t take my comments that way. In a lot of ways being a D.O. involves a committment to going to some extra trouble in terms of more training while in school and in terms of bothering to get to know your patients as whole people rather than a collection of data about them and their medical conditions once you’re practicing. If you’re not drawn to the holistic approach enough to commit to it now, then you probably really will be happier and better as an M.D.


In a lot of ways being a D.O. involves a committment to going to some extra trouble in terms of more training while in school and in terms of bothering to get to know your patients as whole people rather than a collection of data about them and their medical conditions once you’re practicing. If you’re not drawn to the holistic approach enough to commit to it now, then you probably really will be happier and better as an M.D.

Okay I really have to take STRONG exception to this statement. This stereotype of MDs is just ludicrous - NO ONE I know, and that includes my intern pals going into radiology, fercrissake - treats people as a collection of data and medical conditions. That really is an offensive assumption - I know you didn’t mean it that way but I simply have to call you on it because you are cutting at the very heart of what I do. If I were not a holistic, humanistic doctor interested in treating the whole person, well, hell, I’d rather be doing something else. Sheesh.


While it is true that once you’re out of medical school it doesn’t make much difference, to my way of thinking if you’re going to become a D.O. and then go on and do your residency and specialty training and work in an M.D. dominated environment, then any benefits of a more holistic approach will be wasted anyway.

I think you are really about to hang your hat on something that is a mirage. If you continue to think that ‘holistic’ care is 1) something other than simple good doctoring and 2) can only be learned at an osteopathic school, you are just asking to be bitterly disappointed a bit down the road.
It is really bordering on insulting when you keep implying that allopathic medical education is somehow the antithesis of ‘holistic’ care. BTW, I’m assuming you mean humanistic when you say holistic. If this is the case, you’re are flat-assed wrong. Treating our patients as unique individuals and developing a meaningful, trusting relationship with them (even, as I do, in a very hectic 15 minute ER interaction) is the hallmark of good medical practice. It has been for hundreds of years…long before the term ‘holistic’ was even applied to medicine.
If, by ‘holistic’, you mean readily accepting of alternative therapies then you are equally wrong. Most medical schools I know of (of either variety, MD or DO) have departments dedicated to Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). My school, UTMB, has a very well established (and funded, BTW) program in CAM.

I don’t mean to sound unfriendly at all and hope you don’t take my comments that way. In a lot of ways being a D.O. involves a committment to going to some extra trouble in terms of more training while in school and in terms of bothering to get to know your patients as whole people rather than a collection of data about them and their medical conditions once you’re practicing.

Unfriendly? Nope. Rude, insulting and uninformed? Yes. While I really am convinced that you didn’t mean it this way, that is certainly the way it comes across.
It sounds as if you really think we learned in “MD school” that people are only a collection of data and that only MDs act like asses and don’t treat patients as individuals.

If you’re not drawn to the holistic approach enough to commit to it now, then you probably really will be happier and better as an M.D.

Where you can learn to happily denigrate patients as mere hunks of flesh, underserving of your compassion? Please, think about what you’re saying.
Take care,

Hey Jeff.
I have appreciated all of your posts to date this one is no different. You are right, Holistic medicine is totally about the physician’s personal approach regardless of the letters behind their name. What is different from my opinion, is that DO school teaches holistic within the program, they run everything from their admissions to their medicine by that philosophy (hence the reason they are more ipen to non-trads).
Though many suggest the lower entrance scores for DO programs are related to less qualified applicants I think that they simply put more emphasis on the interview than the numbers. For example, one of the best emergency physicians i have worked with over my 10 years is a DO. His MCATs were 17P. SEVENTEEN. Seems unheard of. Clearly not a great indicator of physician ability. One of the worst physicians with the worst bedside manner I have worked with had a 41Q.
I guess what I am trying to say is that It really gets under my skin when I hear that allopathic schools are better based upon entrance reqs, numbers.
All that being said, it all comes down to attitude of the individual and Jeff has it dead on.

Hmmm…obviously I didn’t make what I was trying to say very clear in some ways.
I never meant to imply that there aren’t many individual MD’s who look on patients as more than just collections of diseased parts but the allopathic system still has a lot of old school doctors practicing in it who still maintain the old mindset. All D.O.'s regardless of when they were trained were trained under the more humanistic or holistic approach whichever word you prefer to use to describe it.
I am a born collaborator and would not do well in a setting where I ever had to deal with the old style of medicine so I don’t want professors or rotations with or residencies working with or under people of the old school mindset.
While it is probably true that most of the old mindsets will be gone from the MD world in 20 years or so, they are still quite prevalent today and I am determined to avoid them during my training and residency.
I’m sorry if I offended you but again I was mostly speaking of systems not of individuals, except for suggesting that people who really don’t see a difference between training in a D.O. and M.D. environment really wouldn’t have much reason to apply to a D.O. program that I can see.


. . . so I don’t want professors or rotations with or residencies working with or under people of the old school mindset.

You may not want professors or rotations or residencies with or under people of the old school mindset, but you need to realize that those people are going to be there. It would be impossible to go through all your rotations and residency without the involvement of some people with whom you may have personality conflicts or differences in opinion on how medicine should be practiced. It will be your responsibility to learn how to work within that framework in a professional manner. And you can. But don’t go into it thinking it has to be ‘your way or the highway’. That is just setting yourself up for problems.
Best of luck in your future endeavors.

Based on your reply, I still don’t think you get it. I really do think, even at the most osteopathic of all DO schools, you’re in for a rude awakening. The behavior you describe is prevelent in all fields of endeavor because it is a human characteristic. If you think you’re going to avoid it at a DO school, I think you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. Having worked with many DOs, I can assure you that there are plenty of them (and plenty of MDs, EMTs, RNs, etc) who demonstrate those characteristics you dislike.
Back in the days this group was still just an internet mailing list, we had many a discussion of the importance of personality types in medical education. One of our resident experts (God, I’m old…I can’t remember his name and he is such a great guy…help me out fellow old farts) even wrote a book about it. One the things that was repeatedly emphasized was the importance of learning to deal with people with personality types different than our own.
As much as your personality type embraces collaboration, there are other folks out there who don’t. That doesn’t mean that they have no role in medicine, can’t be wonderful physicians or are generally bad people. The truth is, medicine is made up of humans like any other profession. If you wish to be successful, you’ll need to learn to work with all types of people. Having disdain for them isn’t going to help you succeed.
Good luck in your endeavors. I truly wish you well.
Take care,

Look, choose DO, choose MD, do whatever you want. It’s just not necessary to put down the other “side” in making your choice - and you look ignorant when you do.
What I’ve been trying to say is that ALL physicians educated in U.S. schools are educated about the importance of providing compassionate “holistic” care. I’ll agree that not everyone incorporates it into their practice but EVERY school does it. Every school HAS to do it; we’re not just being evaluated on our board scores and technical knowledge but our ability to provide effective care, which includes communication. Rather than quibble about what that means, exactly, I’d like to post here the “ACGME Competencies.” These are the standards by which all residents in allopathic residencies are evaluated. (I am not familiar with the DO version but I suspect it’s similar.) These competencies in turn drive the curricula at medical schools, as med schools don’t want to produce graduates who aren’t able to pass muster in residency. Please note the number of places where compassion and respect are emphasized.
Residents must be able to provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate, and effective for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of health. Residents are expected to:
communicate effectively and demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families;
gather essential and accurate information about their patients;
make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment; develop and carry out patient management plans;
counsel and educate patients and their families;
use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education;
perform competently all medical and invasive procedures considered essential for the area of practice;
provide health care services aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health;
work with health care professionals, including those from other disciplines, to provide patient-focused care
Residents must demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical, clinical,and cognate (e.g. epidemiological and social-behavioral) sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care. Residents are expected to:
demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations;
know and apply the basic and clinically supportive sciences which are appropriate to their discipline
Residents must be able to investigate and evaluate their patient care practices, appraise and assimilate scientific evidence, and improve their patient care practices. Residents are expected to:
analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology; locate, appraise, and assimilate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients’ health problems;
obtain and use information about their own population of patients and the larger population from which their patients are drawn;
apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical studies and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness;
use information technology to manage information, access on-line medical information, and support their own education; facilitate the learning of students and other health care professionals
Residents must be able to demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange and teaming with patients, their patients’ families, and professional associates. Residents are expected to:
create and sustain a therapeutic and ethically sound relationship with patients;
use effective listening skills and elicit and provide information using effective nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills;
work effectively with others as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
Residents must demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles, and sensitivity to a diverse patient population. Residents are expected to:
demonstrate respect, compassion, and integrity; a responsiveness to the needs of patients and society that supercedes self-interest; accountability to patients, society, and the profession; and a commitment to excellence and on-going professional development;
demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices;
demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to patients’ culture, age, gender, and disabilities
Residents must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and system of health care and the ability to effectively call on system resources to provide care that is of optimal value. Residents are expected to:
understand how their patient care and other professional practices affect other health care professionals, the health care organization, and the larger society and how these elements of the system affect their own practice;
know how types of medical practice and delivery systems differ from one another, including methods of controlling health care costs and allocating resources;
practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care;
advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities;
know how to partner with health care managers and health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve health care and know how these activities can affect system performance
Used with permission of Accreditation Counsel for Graduate Medical Education © ACGME 2003

Hi there,
Back in the dark ages when I applied to medical school, there was no DO school located in Virginia, Maryland or DC (where I applied). I found no problems applying to allopathic schools and I was able to get into enough schools to have a great choice of both location and curriculum.
In 2005, there is no distinction between DO versus MD. Both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools can prepare you for a great career in medicine. I have plenty of osteopathic colleagues who do not do the osteopathic manipulations and I have several allopathic colleages who have learned to do the osteopathic manipulations and use them regularly in their practices.
Apply to a broad range of schools and see what happens. There are plenty of excellent osteopathic schools and allopathic schools in this country so you have many more choices than I did back in the middle 1990s.
Good luck


I am 100% interested in DO schools and have decided to apply to them exclusively (as long as i do well on the MCAT) and i was wondering how others faired in either application to DO or MD?

I probably won’t be applying DO this year simply because I realize I need to be near family where there is no DO school near by. But I’ve always said that given a choice I’d go DO based on my experiences with both MD and DO physicians and quite frankly because I like the idea of having more than a few classmates with “issues” like mine, ie family, children. So for me at almost 40 years old, it’s about personal comfort level while undergoing the most greuling training around.
About the DO versus MD debate, while most people don’t like stereotypes about MD’s or DO’s the fact is that they had to come from somewhere. In my experience, DO’s are much more receptive to alternative care ie acupuncture, supplements, things of this nature,. But I also know an MD with an alternative care clinic. All things being equal, if given a choice of FP or if I had the slighest interest in any of the general areas of medicine like Peds, I’d choose DO. If given a choice of suregon or if I had an interest in any of the surgical areas, I’d choose MD. This dosen’t mean I think MD’s make bad FP’s (I know a really good one, including a close friend) or that DO’s make lousy surgeons. Just my own generalized perceptions about what I see are strenghts and weaknesses in the programs of training.

While there is nothing wrong with embracing the DO philosophy, you need to stop belittling MDs and to stop implying that DO’s are somehow “better” at treating patients. If you’ve had better experience with DO’s than MD’s, that’s fine. But your experience does not give you the right to make sweeping generalizations on how MD’s somehow are anti-patient.
95% of the differences between the two are the initials after the name. After that, the biggest difference in education is that DO students are taught an additional treatment modality called OMM, which is not taught in allopathic schools. The theory behind OMM is that the musco-skeletal system is vital to the overall health of the patient, and its health can affect the health of other organ systems. OMM has traces its roots to the beginnings of osteopathy in the 1800’s, a time when accepted medical treatments included substances such as kerosene and mercury!!!
Except for OMM, osteopathic and allopathic medical education are essentially the same. Yes, the philosophy of OMM itself has a “holistic” feel to it, in that it uses the treatment of one system to affect the health of others. Also, DO schools historically have tended to focus on training students for primary care in rural areas and less on academic specialties. And DO schools do tend to place less emphasis on MCAT/GPA than MD schools do. I guess you can classify these characteristics as “holistic” in that they sound nice and “touchy-feely”. In reality, these characteristics are probably based more on the fact that most DO schools were historically located in rural areas than the result of a “holistic approach to patient care”.

As a DO student, you will be taught by a mixture of PhD’s, MD’s, and DO’s in your classes and rotations, just as you would as an MD student. In fact, in at least one DO school you will take basic science classes with MD students. You may even share a clinical rotation site with MD students. While there is nothing wrong with being proud to be a DO, just don’t go around pontificating about the superiority of your education, or you find yourself becoming the person you claim you do not wish to become.

Well put, Mary. All this arguing about which “type” of medical doctor is “better,” “more holistic,” etc. is uncalled for. While there are some training and philosophical differences between DOs and MDs, basically they are all the same. Indeed, in California in the 1960s, many DOs were grandfathered as MDs – that is how close they are in terms of skills and abilities. (The reasons for this grandfathering, however, are still controversial and relate to California Medical Association practices since abandoned).
My new sister-in-law is a DO surgery intern. She chose to go DO (she went to AZCOM/Midwestern) because it provided her with the training and curriculum she wanted and clerkships throughout the U.S. I always look forward to her weekly emails about her life in the surgery wards. From her perspective, what few differences between DOs and MDs during medical school are not reflected a great deal in her work with other DOs and MD residents. When I asked her about the “holistic-ness” of DOs, she stated that this aspect is unfounded. DOs are just as inclined to use “allopathic” care as MDs, and many MDs are big on “holistic” practices (e.g. Andrew Weil). In the end, she is simply thrilled with her work and her patients are thrilled with her!
The bottom line: whether you go DO or MD, the choice is yours, and they are both good choices. You’ll be a competent physician either route.

[WARNING: stepping up onto my soapbox]

As a practicing DO, let me unequivocally state that there is a very healthy, stubborn, out-of-touch sect of dinosaurs w/i the osteopathic world & they choose to promote our portion of the profession of physicians as “Treating people, not just diseases” in such mainstream, peer-reviewed, RESPECTED journals such as Oprah, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmo… & other equally respectable grocery store rags. The MDs have no monopoly on “old school” farts who simply won’t allow the past to be passed.

I have no doubt in my mind that you both have nothing but the most golden of intentions, but…you need to be careful as to exactly what you accept at face value & to recognize propaganda when you see/read it.

Yes, DO programs have a longer history of embracing alternative therapies, humanistic-focus to medicine/pt care & for welcoming on-traditionals into their fold. But, almost to the number, MD programs have enthusiastically embraced these classicly “DO” credos & have fully integrated them into their curriculum. Before you gloat, on some levels, I am sure DO programs influenced them, but I suspect that the majority of the drive was vis a vis consumer demand.

Now, please remove your rose colored glasses because here comes a shocker: If you put an [censored] thru DO school, he/she will not come out Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Teresa anymore than if Ghandi went to MD school would he turn into the anti-Christ. That notion is archaic, nonsense & offensive to not only MD; but also to practicing DOs who see MDs as our colleagues & partners.

Physician is a profession of which there are DO & MD practitioners. They are not separate & distinct professions. That concept is merely a delusion that the AOA wishes to propagate in their quest for self-preservation. Once upon a time, there was a great deal of animosity b/t DOs & MDs and there was some pretty shitty shinanigans that went on b/t them…FROM BOTH SIDES. However, today we are all up against far more significant issues than a couple of silly-ass initials behind your illegible signature. It is long past time to let go of old battles and work together as one coherent profession…as about 99.9% of us do.

Again, I am quite confident that you are saying things you think you know to be true. Equally confident, I know your intent was not offend my MD colleagues. However, please be cognizant of what & how you say things as this is a tender & potentially contentious subject for all of us, not just MDs. We are all there for our patients & do not like insinuations such as those you inadvertently made.

[stepping off of my soapbox]

All that I was ever trying to convey is:
1)I decided that DO training is better FOR ME.
2)In a long history of dealing with a rare disease DO’s have consistently been better doctors FOR ME.
Any perceived bashing of MD’s or saying they are better/worse is just that: perceived. I do however continue to maintain that they are somewhat different. Not better and worse different overall but better or worse different FOR ME.
I would still maintain that for someone not geared to using alternative and complementary therapies, DO training is something of a waste and I also continue to fail to see why someone who is inclined to embrace alternative medicine would want to be an MD. This doesn’t mean I think (nor did I say if you reread what I wrote previously carefully) that MD’s are worse or better than DO’s or that DO’s are better or worse than MD’s. What I said is they are different.

I agreed with your reply until you tried to say that DO training was a waste for those that do not embrace alternative therapies. That is one of the most judgemental and unjustified statements I’ve heard in a while. Education is NEVER a waste. The only “alternative” therapy taught in DO programs is OMM, and MANY DO’s do not practice OMM. But very, very few DO’s feel that their training was a waste. During the 90% of class time that DO students are not learning OMM, they are learning the SAME material as MD students.
Similarly, MD education does not preclude one from practicing alternative therapies either. Many books promoting alternative therapies are written or endorsed by MD’s.
Again, there is nothing wrong for wanting to go the DO route for whatever reason. But, just remember that >90% of your training will be the same. If you go into your freshman year thinking everyone will be “holistic” in their approach and you will be learning alternative therapies all the time, you will be sadly disappointed.
OTOH, once you complete school and residency, there will be nothing to stop you from studying and practicing alternative therapies such as accupuncture, herbal, OMM (if a DO), or whatever. In fact, you will probably find your “traditional” medical knowledge to be quite valuable, regardless of whether you went DO or MD.

As a practicing acupuncturist, you could say that I “embrace” alternative medicine. I would love nothing more than to become an MD. Or a DO. I really don’t care which, I just want to have more knowledge with which to help my patients. I have many clients that are MDs and they refer patients to me all the time. I know it’s already been said many times before but one can practice as allopathically or as alternatively as one wants no matter what the letters are after your name. Even in my profession, there are those who bring a strictly medical approach to acupuncture and ones who work from the viewpoint of energetic imbalances or on more of a “spiritual level of healing.” You can’t predict how a person is going to practice medicine based solely on their credentialing.