Osteopathic Medicine

by Carol Hagan

When the topic of osteopathic medicine comes up in my conversations with pre-meds, I usually hear something along the lines of “What IS that?” or “I don’t want to be limited.  I may want to do surgery.”  If you are interested in health care, then you should know about osteopathic medicine.  According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), nearly one in five U.S. medical students is training to be an osteopathic physician.  On a more personal level, it would be unfortunate to overlook or dismiss a promising career path due to lack of information or misinformation.


So, what is osteopathic medicine?  AACOM describes osteopathic physicians as “…bringing a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury.”  Can you specialize?  Yes.  Can you be a surgeon?  Yes.  Can you pursue a dual-degree program?  Yes.  You will find MD’s and DO’s working and teaching side by side in every medical school and teaching hospital in Philadelphia.

Excellent information about osteopathic medicine can be found on AACOM’s web page.   Particularly interesting are the links to current data on applicants, graduates, and areas of specialization and profiles of more than 50 current medical students.  And, of course, there’s a Facebook page!


Don’t forget to talk to osteopathic physicians themselves!  In fact, if you do apply to colleges of osteopathic medicine, you will need to have a letter of recommendation from a DO, just one of a few reasons to consider osteopathic medicine well before it’s time to apply to medical school.  It’s never too early to set up short, informational interviews and make inquiries about shadowing a DO.  Be polite, but be proactive.  If you feel hesitant about how to contact with a physician, come talk to us at Career Services.

Osteopathic medicine may not be the best fit for you, but then again, it might – don’t let what you don’t know limit your options.