It’s been difficult for students to plan a career in osteopathic medicine in the past because they haven’t had a comprehensive resource for planning their college courses to qualify for DO schools. Choose DO has recently emerged as a version of MSAR for DO schools. Premedical students have a choice of pursuing a traditional MD degree or a DO degree in osteopathic medicine. There are also physician assistant programs available.

MD students have access to the MSAR, the Medical School Admissions Requirements, which is a comprehensive resource for admissions requirements to MD medical schools. Unfortunately, the MSAR only covers MD schools and programs. Choose DO, MSAR for DO schools, is a new resource that provides the same benefits that MSAR does.

These benefits of Choose DO include information on each of the 35 DO schools of osteopathic medicine in the United States and their last three years of admission statistics. You get precise admission requirements, and you can get the information while still attending high school to choose a better curriculum in college while pursuing your bachelor’s degree. However, students will need to keep updated on admission requirements throughout their college careers.

The Osteopathic Approach to Medicine

Osteopathic DOs are real doctors who can use the term doctor in front of their names. DOs can prescribe medicine, perform surgery and work in any medical specialty. Osteopaths just have a different philosophy of treatment – focusing on prevention, proactive health and hands-on treatment. Osteopathic DO schools look for agreement with this basic philosophy in their applicants.

DOs receive specialized training in the body’s complex system of interconnected nerves, muscles, tendons, and bones, which is collectively called the musculoskeletal system. The training is more intensive and comprehensive than the training most MDs receive. Osteopathic DOs learn to use their hands to manipulate muscles, provide therapeutic relief of pain and trigger the body’s natural self-healing system.

What Is Choose DO?

Choose DO has emerged as the closest match to the MSAR, which is the Medical School Admissions Requirements database, commonly abbreviated as the MSAR. Students use this resource to research college admission requirements, choose the schools to which they apply, learn what they need to study, navigate the complex admissions process and improve their chances of acceptance.

Until now, there hasn’t been a similar resource available for DOs, but Choose DO, MSAR for DO schools, offers the same tools for prospective DO students as the MSAR, and unlike MSAR, Choose DO is a free resource. All Students have to do to review the information is provide some basic contact information. 

What Is a DO, and Why Are DOs Becoming So Popular?

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, commonly called DOs, are licensed physicians who work in all facets of medicine, but they tend to take a holistic approach. That means concentrating on preventative medicine and comprehensive care to recover from illnesses, get healthy and stay well mentally and physically.

Specifically, DOs take a more personal approach to treating their patients by listening carefully to their input, understanding each patient’s lifestyle and customizing treatment and preventative medicine based on whole-person information.

Students can now pursue DO degrees at 35 colleges and 57 teaching venues across 33 states, and there are more than 30,000 students enrolled. DOs specialize in every area of medicine, and their specialized training in the musculoskeletal system often makes them better qualified to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal disorders, aka MSDs. MSDs rank as the most common workplace injuries and generate treatment expenses that add up to 30 percent of all workers’ comp insurance payments. Some of these disorders include:

  • Workplace injuries of all types
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Radial tunnel syndrome
  • Muscle and tendon strains
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Mechanical back syndrome
  • Trigger finger and thumb
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis
  • Ruptured or herniated discs
  • Ligament sprains
  • Epicondylitis
  • Tension neck syndrome
  • De Quervain’s syndrome
  • Digital Neuritis

Students can look forward to specializing in these types of treatments and other disorders with a built-in demand for patient services. U.S. companies spend more than $50 billion on MSD treatments, and that’s just one area where DOs provides patient care. Many experts consider DO care more comprehensive than the care of MDs because of the osteopathic whole-person approach and expertise in treating MSDs.

Students can look forward to specializing in these types of treatments and other disorders with a built-in demand for patient services. The U.S. companies spend more than $50 billion on MSD treatments, and that’s just one area where DOs provides patient care. Many experts consider DO care more comprehensive than the care of MDs because of the whole-person approach and expertise in treating MSDs.

Myths and Misconceptions About DO Doctors

Osteopathic medicine isn’t a recent new-age fad but a respected medical philosophy that was developed by a man named A.T. Still in 1874. Myths persist about osteopathy even after 150 years. Some of the myths include the premise that osteopathic doctors can’t do all the things that medical doctors do. Another rumor is that premedical students only apply to DO schools if they fail to get accepted at traditional medical schools. Both of these myths are patently false.

DO schools have standards that are just as high as allopathic schools, but admission requirements vary from school to school as they do among medical schools. Those who have already decided to pursue osteopathic medicine know that the osteopathic approach is an accepted and proven medical philosophy that actually expands patient treatment options

What Choose DO Can Do for You

If you’re considering a medical career, it makes sense to study both osteopathic medicine and the standard programs for medical doctors to see which is better for you. The Choose DO Explorer Tool is free to use, and all you need to do is supply your name, state, year you plan to start medical school and email address.

The Explorer Tool compiles admissions data and acceptance statistics at each of the osteopathic colleges and includes many special features. These include real-world stories from current students, different educational options and advice on how to choose your medical path. Although regular physicians try to encourage proactive medicine, they are often inundated with reactive treatments and the tendency toward “assembly line” medicine. DO doctors treat patients for current problems but also focus on preventing injury and illness and providing hands-on musculoskeletal manipulation.

Admissions Criteria for Osteopathic Studies

Admissions criteria vary from college to college, which is one of the reasons that Choose DO can prove invaluable for your planning and research. A good example of the complex criteria used by DO schools includes the following general admission criteria used by John Hopkins University:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university or college
  • Academic excellence
  • Strong interpersonal skills that include commitment to service, leadership, multitasking skills and some clinical experience
  • Mean cumulative GPA: 3.54
  • Mean cumulative GPA in math and science courses: 3.43
  • Mean MCAT: 503.8
  • Computer skills
  • Clear personal motivation to pursue osteopathic medicine
  • Letter from an osteopath DO recommending the student for admission
  • Shadowing a DO doctor, an optional accomplishment that is highly encouraged
  • Biology, physics and chemistry courses in college that include lab work

What Does a DO Do?

DOs work in every medical specialty and work environment doing everything that medical doctors do. Some of the daily work of a typical DO doctor includes:

  • Diagnose illnesses, medical disorders and chronic conditions.
  • Develop a treatment plan that includes aftercare and strategies to prevent the recurrence of problems.
  • Examine the whole patient while looking beyond current symptoms.
  • Use a hands-on approach for Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment to encourage the body’s ability to self-heal.
  • Prescribe drugs, therapy and surgery when necessary

What’s the Best Decision for You: Allopathic MD or Osteopathic DO?

The Choose DO resource, MSAR for DO schools, makes pursuing the osteopathic path more convenient and attractive for many students. However, something as important as your career requires careful study of many factors that include potential income, working conditions, job security and the opportunities to work where you want after DO school.

The truth is that both MD and DO schools can lead to remunerative, respected careers of helping people fight illness, recover from injuries and manage their health. Both are licensed doctors with the authority to prescribe medication and treat medical conditions. Allopathic medicine focuses on the purely clinical treatment of patients based on science while osteopathic medicine focuses on hands-on treatment of the whole patient.

Some students are unaware of the osteopathic option, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. Some people, though, have developed the mindset that only MDs are real doctors and that osteopaths are alternative healers using folk remedies. That’s entirely untrue; qualified osteopathic DOs can prescribe any medication, perform surgeries and diagnose and treat any medical condition or refer their patients to specialists – like any medical doctor.

Osteopath Philosophy

Osteopathic doctors focus on the whole person and prevention, a valid approach. The goal of any medical treatment is to restore the body’s natural ability to heal. Without that, no treatment will work. The majority of students who choose to pursue the osteopathic track do so because of its whole-body approach, a philosophy they share.

Residency and Licensing Exams for DOs and MDs

Much of the education and training of DOs and MDs are identical on matters based wholly on science. The curricula diverge when students begin to take licensing exams and fulfill their residency requirements. Students at traditional medical schools take the USMLE series while those in osteopathic schools take the COMPLEX sequence. Both examinations consist of three parts that students usually take according to the following schedule:

  1. First part: near the end of the second year of study
  2. Second part: sometime in the fourth year
  3. Third part: after the first year of residency

The regulations have recently changed so that both osteopathic and allopathic students have equal access to all residency programs. When using the National Resident Matching Program, allopathic students get matched with their residency preference 90.3 percent of the time while osteopathic students get matched 84.6 percent of the time.

You can’t really determine a difference between MD and DO salaries because these depend on your medical specialty. Examples of medical specialist salaries in 2018 include:

  • Pediatricians: $175,000+
  • Internists: $194,500+
  • Family Medicine and General Practitioners: $201,110+
  • Anesthesiologists: $208,000+
  • Ob/Gyns: $208,000+

Critical Information Available at Choose DO

Choose DO provides critical information for applying and getting accepted at one of the 35 osteopathic colleges. The information available to students includes strategies for dual degree programs – such as becoming an osteopathic physician and earning a master of science in disaster and emergency management. Choose DO also compiles critical information about each school that includes:

  • Scholarship programs
  • Different types of financial aid
  • Dual degree information
  • School diversity stats
  • Graduate medical education programs
  • Number of international students
  • Accreditation, licensing and examination information
  • Tips for applying

Special Features that Students Will Enjoy

Choose DO also offers a blog where you can get the direct skinny from current students and information about special events, such as an online fair for students who are interested in DO schools. You can also find out about medical school recruiting events. These might include open houses, campus tours, live chats, meet-and-greets and other activities.

Reasons to Use Choose DO

The reasons to use Choose DO include both the resource for students and choosing DO careers. DO programs offer all medical specialties and PA internship programs. There are even once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for PA interns available in exotic locations in Africa, the Caribbean and South America.

Apply now for a healthcare internship, or you might prefer to apply for a pre-med internship or a PA internship. Choose DO can help you plan an extraordinarily exciting career with all the prestige, income and satisfaction of becoming a respected doctor with a people-first approach.