DO and residency

Dear fellow OPMs,
I am still a long ways away from applying to med schools (in the midst of a MCAT prep course). I am aiming to take it in August '04. I am really interested in the holistic approach that DO schools belive in, but I haven’t made up my mind whether I will solely be applying to DO programs. Depending on my MCAT scores, I will probably be looking at both DO and MD programs. My question tonight is regarding res. programs - is it common for a DO to apply for an allopathic residency program? If so, what are the chances of acceptance? For those who have tried this, any tips/drawbacks/challenges you’d like to share?
Any guidance you can provide will be appreciated.
Many thanks! …and, Happy New Year!

our esteemed founder OldManDave (David Kelley, D.O.) is a first-year resident at an allopathic program. He’s up to his eyeballs in internship so hasn’t posted much lately but if you search for stuff he’s written in the past year you’ll find lots of information about this.
Short answer, it absolutely can be done, and pretty much in any specialty, if you work it right.

Thanks for the reply, Mary. I will look further into it.
Best regards,

Let me lay some numbers on you…in excess of 2/3rds of DO-grads do ACGME (that’s the real term for allopathic) residencies. So, DOs applying & getting into ACGME post-grad training, overall, is very common. Now, with that being said, w/i certain sub-sets, it is definitely more challenging for DOs to match into - although there have DO-grads get into all ACGME specialties/subspecialties. Off the top of my head: neurosurgery, orthopedic surg, derm & ophtho are a couple of the ones that are more challenging for DOs to get into. Why? There is a multitude of reasons…but, if you look at the published match results, you will see that there are DOs matching into these ivory tower ACGME programs. If you’re planning upon doing more generalist stuff: family practice, Int Med, OB/Gyn - I cannot imagine “DO” to be even be a factor.
in my humble opinion, I think many DO-grads or grads-to-be use the “but I am a DO; so that’s why they would not take me” as an excuse for not doing what needed to be done to be competitive in field-x. It is always easier to blame something external/extraneous than it is to accept the repsonsbility/consequences of your own actions. But, as I said, that is purely my personal opinion, for what it is worth - that & $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee.

Dear OldManDave,
Thank you for your sound advice. It’s reassuring to know that there are so many options available to you.
I have made a promise to myself that I will not make any excuses when it comes to decisions I need to make about medical school. I am looking forward to taking the MCATs (after I’ve studied my bum off) and hopefully getting into a school that meets my needs, and then hopefully getting a reasonable match.
By the way, I read your article and your story is amazing!
Thank you!

You are welcome & I am flattered. Just goes to show how much a very determined (some call it stubborn) Cherokee/Irishman can accomplish if he sets his mind to it.


Let me lay some numbers on you…in excess of 2/3rds of DO-grads do ACGME (that’s the real term for allopathic) residencies.

Dave, are you saying that only 1/3 of DO grads get DO residencies? That confuses me. Is that because there are not many DO residencies? Is this going to be something that will cause me problems 4 years from now? I am planning on being a rural primary care physician (haven’t decided on with or without OB).
If 2/3 DO grads go for ACGME, does that mean there are a lot of Do ones going unfilled?

This is a huge can ‘O’ worms that I will try to distill down a simple, straight-forward answer. First, with the adding of 3 or 4 DO schools in the last decade, there are no longer enough AOA funded internship/residency slots available for all DOs to have a slot in an AOA progam. And, since the ACGME has so openly welcomed DOs in virtually every type of training program, there has not been a massive effort to expand…plus with all of the alterations in funding & expansion of residencies by the Fed Gov’t, it has become very difficult to expand or add new programs. So, DO schools encourage their grads to stay w/i the AOA programs, but it is not a realistic expectation.
Second, the question likely rattling around in your head now is “Wow, will I even be able to land a slot in an AOA progam?” Most likely, ‘yes’ is the answer. As a general rule, definitely NOT set in concrete, the majority of AOA programs are community-based & a lot of the more rural than most people expect. This has a lot to do with the DO tradition - since the founding of DO medicine, DOs have primarily been small-town, primary care Docs. This is not to say that we are not well represented in the specialties & sub-specialties, cause we are…it is just that our “roots” is in rural-ish, primary care & that is reflected in the demographics of the AOA’s training programs, esp in the mid-west (the traditional birthplace of DO med).
What tends to happen is that DO-grads who seek the larger, university-based, urban medical center experience tend to filter themselves out of the DO post-grad applicant pool leaving the spots the resemble what you are describing for the people who desire them. And, I have never heard of a DO grad having trouble landing one of those slots. You will find a veritable candy-store of rural, primary care styled training programs through the AOA. In fact, I can try to put you into contact with a classmate of mine, who is doing precisely what you profess to to seek, and she is a past-President of the student ACOFP (Amer Coll of Osteo Fam Pract). E-mail me off the board & I will try to introduce you two:
Does my explanation make things a little more clear?