To become a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.), an individual must be a graduate of one of the nation’s osteopathic medical schools. Applicants to osteopathic medical schools have completed a four-year undergraduate degree, have completed specific science courses, and taken the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) just as applicants to allopathic (M.D.) medical schools.
The osteopathic curriculum involves four years of academic study. The curriculum emphasizes preventative medicine and comprehensive patient care, reflecting the osteopathic philosophy.
After completing the four-year training program, D.O.s serve a one-year rotating internship, gaining hands-on experience in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, family practice, and pediatrics. This experience ensures that osteopathic physicians are first trained as primary care physicians. The internship provides every D.O. with the perspective to see and treat every patient as a whole person.
Most D.O.s will continue their graduate medical education with a residency consisting of two to six years of additional training. Residencies are available in the primary care disciplines—family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics—as well as other specialties such as neuromusculoskeletal medicine, surgery, radiology, psychiatry and sports medicine.
All physicians (both D.O.s and M.D.s) must pass a state medical board examination in order to obtain a license and enter practice.*
*Adapted from brochures distributed by the American Osteopathic Association, "Osteopathic Medicine" and "OMT: Hands-on Care". For more information on osteopathic medicine, contact: American Osteopathic Association, 142 E. Ontario Street, Chicago, IL 60611. By phone: 1-800-621-1773 or on the web at www.aoa-net.org.