Osteopathic Education



Osteopathic medicine is emerging as one of our nation's fastest growing healthcare professions. And with good reason. Because of their commitment to primary care and prevention, osteopathic physicians (D.O.'s) are becoming the physicians of choice for more and more people. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the inter-relationship of the body's nerves, muscles, bones and organs. The osteopathic philosophy of treating the whole person is applied to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, disease and injury.

Osteopathic physicians provide complete medical care to millions of people throughout the United States. D.O.'s are trained in family practice and many receive additional training in specialty areas such as psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics, surgery, ophthalmology and cardiology.
Preparing for Admission
To be considered for admission to any of the nation's osteopathic medical schools, applicants typically have a bachelor's degree, with undergraduate studies that include one year each of English, biological sciences, physics, general chemistry and organic chemistry. Other requirements may include genetics, mathematics, and psychology. Most prospective D.O. students major in sciences with an emphasis in biology or chemistry; however, applicants may major in any discipline as long as they meet the minimum course and grade requirements. Applicants must also take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

Osteopathic medicine is a people-oriented profession that demands dedicated and empathetic individuals. Prospective osteopathic medical students must exhibit a genuine concern for people. Applicants may wish to spend some time with a D.O. or do volunteer work in a healthcare setting before considering a career in this field. Osteopathic medical colleges require a personal interview to assess an applicant's desire to become an osteopathic physician. 

For a catalog of requirements and information, contact any of the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

The Osteopathic Curriculum
The first two years of the osteopathic medical curriculum focus on basic sciences. The third and fourth years emphasize clinical work, with much of the teaching in community hospitals, major medical centers and doctors' offices.

During the clinical years, students study general medicine and are involved in research. They rotate through urban, suburban and rural settings, gaining exposure to all areas of medicine.

Osteopathic principles and practices, which emphasize the relationship between body systems, are integrated into the four-year curriculum. Students learn osteopathic manipulative treatment for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. 

Postdoctoral Training & Licensure
Following graduation, D.O.'s complete an approved 12-month internship. Interns rotate through hospital departments including internal medicine, family practice and surgery. Many may then choose to complete a residency program in a specialty area, requiring two to six years of additional training.

D.O.'s are licensed for the full practice of medicine and surgery in all 50 states. Each state determines the tests and procedures for licensing its physicians. In some states, the same tests are given to D.O.'s and M.D.'s; other states administer separate licensing exams.
Continuing Medical Education (CME)
Continuing Medical Education is a lifetime commitment to learning by osteopathic physicians who recognize that the study of medicine does not end with completion of medical school. The American Osteopathic Association requires its members to earn a specified number of continuing medical education credits every three years in order to maintain membership.

For more information on admission to a college of osteopathic medicine, contact:
The Central Application Service of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7231
Tel (301) 968-4100
Fax (301) 968-4101