Last Updated on February 5, 2023 by Fola Shade
As more and more individuals go back to school to improve the value they provide to potential employers, one of the difficult questions is which medical school they should go into. And on top of that, which specialty should they focus on?
These questions are completely understandable, and we’ve set out to help you answer some of them so you’re no longer left in the dark about which path you should choose.
There are roughly 800,000 practicing physicians in the US today, and those physicians can be broken down into two groups. Those two groups are: Medical Doctors, and Osteopathic Doctors.
This means that there is roughly less than 10 percent of all physicians that can be considered an Osteopathic Doctor as compared to a Medical Doctor. This might propose a couple questions in your mind, so we’ve set out to resolve some of those questions by answering what is an osteopathic medicine, and what you should know about it when considering the best osteopathic medicine schools to consider.
What Is Osteopathic Medicine?
For those individuals who are unfamiliar with what Osteopathic medicine is, we’re gonna help guide you along the path of figuring it out.
Osteopathic medicine can be broken down into providing care through all modern medical benefits and procedures, such as: surgery, prescription drugs, and the use of technology for diagnosing and treating various injuries.
Osteopathic medicine is truly focused on improving each patients’ overall wellbeing and lifestyle through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and disease prevention.
In addition, Osteopathic medicine is focused around providing care through a hands-on treatment method for every single patient.
Osteopathic doctors are completely licensed physicians that are trained to perform a variety of medical procedures and treatments.
One way that Osteopathic medicine truly stands out for its unique approach dates back to its original creation – where students were told to look at the overall health and wellbeing of the entire body instead of individual parts.
Why Is Osteopathic Medicine Different?
Typically, medical doctors will look at individual body parts to determine what’s wrong. For instance if you are having an issue with your breathing, doctors might take a look at your lungs for some problems. From there, they would eventually work their way out as they try and diagnose the problem
In contrast, Osteopathic doctors are trained to look at the entire body instead of individual parts.
Osteopathic doctors are trained in what is commonly referred to as manual medicine. Osteopathic doctors will help treat patients through the use of spinal manipulation or massage therapy.
Most people wouldn’t expect to get a massage from their doctor, but that’s something that Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine specialize in.
Osteopathic doctors are trained to communicate with all individuals from every background, so they can diagnose and treat effectively. These communication skills are formulated through the extensive curriculum that osteopathic students go through in osteopathic medical school.
What Is The Curriculum Like For Osteopathic Medical Students?
Student physicians who are attending osteopathic medical school can expect to go through an extensive amount of required curriculum. This curriculum is designed to lead them on the pathway to becoming an expert physician in the healthcare industry.
In addition to traditional medical classes for medical students, osteopathic medical students are expected to take an additional 200 hours of classes designed to make them experts at using the art of osteopathic medicine to treat patients.
The art of osteopathic medicine is the use of manual medicine throughout the treatment of patients, as we mentioned previously.
One thing that is key for osteopathic students to learn throughout their curriculum is the connection between structure and function.
Students are tasked with learning the connection between the two, as manual medicine requires understanding how each body part functions in order to treat it properly. If students don’t understand the full range of motion or function, they could seriously set their patients back a ways.
In addition, students are tasked with learning how structure can influence function. This means that if there is certain problems in one area or body structure, then it might affect the function of those body parts in that area as well.
Not only might those body functions be affected in that particular area, but students must also understand how that structure can affect functions in other areas of the body as a direct result.
Another unique quality that revolves around the curriculum for osteopathic medical students is the emphasis on letting the body naturally heal itself.
In some other schools of thought, treatments are designed to speed up the healing process or treat patients in ways that might be seen as unnatural.
Osteopathic medicine is designed to help place the body on the pathway to healing itself naturally over time. In essence, the manual medicine manipulation techniques are designed at reducing various impediments that might be preventing the body from naturally healing itself.
The body will begin naturally healing itself once a proper structure has been set, and function can return to normal. Once the function has finally returned to normal, the body can then begin restoring health to the patient over a gradual period of time.
To be a successful osteopathic doctor, one has to have the mindset that they are going to set the body on its natural path to healing itself. The only way a body can truly heal itself is if everything is working as it should – through structure and then function.
What Is The Difference Between a Medical Doctor (MD) and an Osteopathic Doctor (DO)?
As we previously mentioned, there is a large number of MDs vs DOs, but what are some of the differences? When you understand what the differences are between the two schools of thought, then you can make an informed decision about which medical school you should attend.
In this section, we’ll cover what some of the differences are between the two.
Currently there is 141 accredited MD medical schools, and roughly 31 accredited DO schools. There are a few differences between the two when it comes to submitting applications and being considered for a potential education as well.
For instance, when a student is applying to an MD School, it is common practice for them to be required to use the AMCAS application to apply. In addition, students are asked to submit their college transcript with that form, the MCAT, a personal statement, and additional application materials that might be required from that individual institution.
In contrast, when a student is applying to a DO school, they are asked to use the AACOMAS application. This application will include a personal college transcript, the MCAT, a personal statement as to why they want to become a DO, and then a letter of recommendation from a DO that is currently practicing.
Those are just a few of the differences between getting admitted into a MD or DO medical school. Once you become admitted, there are also plenty of other differences as well with curriculum, residency placement, and additional examinations required to become a practicing doctor.
For those students pursuing an MD degree, there are plenty of options available to them to get a dual degree.
Some of the dual degree options include: MD/PhD or MD/MPH degrees.
For those students who wish to pursue a DO degree, there are less opportunities presented to them to earn a dual degree. Even though there are less opportunities, there are still programs that offer DO/PhD degrees. If that is something you’re interested in pursuing, then you need to do a bit more research in the schools that you’re considering, to ensure that they do offer that opportunity.
After your curriculum in an MD school, from there you would then enter the National Residency Match Program, commonly known as NRMP. In this matching program, you would be placed in a residency that matches your specialty of medicine.
In contrast, a DO student has several different options. DO students can enter more than 500 Osteopathic residency programs, or they can also enter the National Residency match Program (NRMP) as an MD would.
It’s not uncommon for a DO to take this route, as roughly ten percent of all DOs take this route.
Once you select which residency program you’re interested in pursuing, then the accreditation and licensing procedures are also different.
Typically, a MD will then be asked to take the USMLE to obtain their medical license. A DO will be asked to pass the COMLEX to obtain their own medical license.
There are plenty of differences between the two medical school programs, and knowing those differences will help ensure that you select the best osteopathic medical school for you.
Touro College Of Osteopathic Medicine Acceptance Rate
Is Getting into a Osteopathic Medical School or MD School Harder?
One question that many medical students ask themselves is – which medical school is harder to get into? According to Medical School Headquarters, the historical trend between MD vs DO is that it used to be harder to get into an MD school than it was to get into an DO medical school – that trend is no longer consistent though.
Historically speaking, the average trend for MCAT scores for students that were accepted was 26 vs 31 with 26 being the average MCAT score for Osteopathic medical students and 31 being the average MCAT score for MD students.
In recent studies, that trend has flip flopped to be the complete opposite. The acceptance rate is now much lower for those medical students who are looking to attend Osteopathic medical school instead of attending an MD program.
Part of the reason that it has become more competitive is partly due to the fact that there are less programs available for DO students to apply to.
It’s simple economics really, as supply decreases – demand rises. Same thing could be said for osteopathic medical schools.
Even though DO schools are statistically harder to get into now than MD programs, that shouldn’t stop you from applying to the program that you’re particularly interested in.
In our list of best osteopathic medical school, we detail the average GPA among accepted students, so it’s easier for you to understand where you might fall in terms of competitiveness amongst the other applicants.
How Much Do Osteopathic Doctors Earn?
Now that you know a little bit more about the history between osteopathic medical school programs, another important question many individuals have regarding their interest in medical school is what their potential earnings might be.
Understanding the potential earnings you can ultimately work towards as a medical student helps provide some clarity in career outlook and career earnings.
In addition, it’s helpful to know how much you’ll earn over time as medical school can be incredibly expensive. So you can estimate how much money you can use to pay of your medical school bills or medical school loans.
Osteopathic Doctors can expect to earn between $90.63/hr to $277.09/hr. This roughly translates to salary earnings of $188,000 to $576,000.
In other words, it is a very lucrative career choice for you to decide to become an Osteopathic Doctor.
Compared to a medical doctor, the gap is even larger. A medical doctor’s earnings can range from $78.34/hr to $101.23/hr. This roughly translates to $163,000 to $211,000 a year.
This means as an Osteopathic Doctor, you have the potential of earning $25,000 to $365,000 more per year than a Medical Doctor.
What Is The Job Outlook for Osteopathic Doctors?
Another common question for individuals who are considering Osteopathic medical school, and figuring out which of the best osteopathic medical schools they would like to apply to – one often considers the job outlook for that position as well.
Almost every healthcare or hospital profession is currently experiencing an industry shortage. This means hospitals and healthcare facilities cannot find enough qualified candidates or talent to fill vacant positions fast enough.
The job outlook for Osteopathic Doctors is expected to rise from roughly 311,300 positions in 2019 to over 470,900 positions in the next decade by 2032. This means that there is going to be an estimated opening of about 159,600 from now until 2032 that will eventually open up.
If you’re worried about career stability and job outlook in a future profession before you attend Osteopathic Medical School, then you can’t go wrong becoming an Osteopathic doctor.
How Long Is Osteopathic Medical School?
Another common questions that many students have when getting ready to submit their Osteopathic medical school applications is how long it will take. Plenty of Osteopathic applicants are excited about graduating and starting their future career as an OD so you can rest assured that you’re not alone.
But it does take some time to go through Osteopathic medical school.
Osteopathic medical school typically takes an average of 2 years after your Bachelor’s degree.
After that, students are then placed in a residency period for hands-on training in their medical specialty for roughly 2 years.
This means that to become an Osteopathic medical doctor takes roughly 8 years when you enter a University for the first time, or only four years if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree.
Whether you desire a fun student life or a better chance of getting into your desired residency program, there is a school for you. Here is our top 10 best osteopathic medical schools of 2017.
Top 10 Best Osteopathic Medical Schools:
1. Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Coming in at the top spot for the top 10 best osteopathic medical schools is Michigan State University. As the 33rd best medical school for primary care according to the US News Report, Michigan State is the only osteopathic medical school to rank in the top 50 medical schools for primary care.
With over 1,200 osteopathic students statewide, a 3.63 average GPA and two-thirds of graduates staying in state , you can see why Michigan State is number one.
2. Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine
VCOM’s goal is to prepare community-focused physicians to meet the needs of rural and medically underserved areas while promoting research to improve overall human health, making it a great choice if you’re considering a student loan forgiveness program in the future
Almost 90% of graduates from Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine are accepted into their first choice of residency programs. Also, students hoping to be admitted have the opportunity to attend this medical school in Virginia, Auburn or the Carolinas.
3. Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Rounding out the top 3 best osteopathic schools is Lake Erie College. With a minimum 2.7 GPA and an average of 3.2, admission is easier than some schools. Also, if you want the chance to finish your medical degree in three years instead of four, Lake Erie is the place to go
LECOM works to prepare students to become osteopathic physicians, pharmacists, and dentists through their programs revolving around research, education, critical care, and community service.
4. Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine
Coming in at number 4 on our list is Touro College. Located across the street from the Apollo and surrounded by things to do make this a desirable location. Minority status may help your chances of getting into this medical school.
Increasing the underrepresented minorities in medicine and placing more physicians in under-served communities is the mission of this medical school located in urban Harlem and rural Middletown.
5. West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Rounding out our top 5 best osteopathic medical schools is the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. With an acceptance rate of 9% and under 900 enrolled students, this isn’t your easiest medical school to get into.
It’s selectivity contributes to over 60% of graduate students being admitted into their first choice of residency programs. First year students also receive a laptop for their four years of study.
6. Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine
At number 6 is the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine. This is the first osteopathic college to share a campus with a regional medical center. With the first graduating class being in May 2017, you could be one of the 150 students who will graduate from this medical school each year.
Located in Dotham, Alabama, ACOM is a comprehensive, four-year osteopathic medical college affiliated with Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan, a 420-bed regional medical center.
7. Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic medicine will see its first graduating class this May. The average GPA is a 3.4 with a minimum 497 MCAT which means you don’t need academic excellency to be considered. This college is also distinctively Christian, so if you are looking for a faith-based medical school it’s a perfect fit.
Liberty’s mission is to educate osteopathic physicians in a Christian environment and prepare physicians who dedicate themselves to excellence in the practice of osteopathic medicine through service to their fellow man, life long learning, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
8. Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
The Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine is Indiana’s first medical school in 110 years. Conveniently located minutes from downtown Indianapolis, Marian University gives students a quick getaway from the labors of medical school. The average GPA is a 3.61 and this school is a perfect fit for individuals looking for a Catholic-based university.
Their vision is to provide an education distinguished in its ability to prepare transformative leaders for service to the world. Marian is a Catholic university dedicated to providing students the teaching the need and they welcome those of all faiths.
9. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is another medical school that gives you two location options with one being in Suwanee, Georgia and their primary campus in Philadelphia, PA. PCOM gave out $136 million in scholarships last year. They are also one of the top 5 schools in the country when it comes to low student default rates with 99.2% of loans repaid.
PCOM students learn to approach problem solving in a more professional, team-oriented manner and to work successfully in integrated healthcare settings with other professionals.
10. William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Finishing our top 10 best osteopathic medical schools is the William University College of Osteopathic Medicine. William Carey University’s first graduating class achieved a 98% post-graduate placement rate. This medical school consists of a diverse group of individuals that most students will value.
WCUCOM was awarded full accreditation by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) in 2014 and it graduated its inaugural class of osteopathic medical students shortly thereafter.