Comparison of MD and DO Medical Programs

Comparison of MD and DO Medical Programs

There are two pathways to becoming a physician in the U.S. and applicants often wonder what the difference is in MD vs. DO programs. M.D. graduates, also known as allopathic physicians often have the same duties and responsibilities as D.O. physicians, also known as osteopathic physicians. They can even compete for  the same residencies and work side by side, however there are some key differences.

Education: While MD and DO schools both teach about health and the treatment of disease in four year programs, osteopathic schools often place an emphasis upon treatment of the patient as a whole. This is sometimes referred to as holistic medicine, as opposed to the tendency of allopathic physicians to focus on various organ systems and diseases. D.O. practitioners also learn manual manipulation techniques and body alignment that are not taught by MD schools who often doubt their impact on overall patient health.

Licensing: MD students take the USMLE. DO students take the COMLEX, an exam similar to the USMLE. However they have the option of taking the USMLE in addition tot he COMLEX if they so desire.

Residency: There are some residency programs, mostly in primary care, that have special slots designated for DO students. Other residency spots allow both MD and DO students to participate in their match process, provided they have USMLE scores, but it is commonly believed that many of these programs consider the MD applicant more competitive. Whether or not this is true depends on the program under consideration.

Can you apply to both programs at once? Yes, but it might serve you well to choose one or the other. Schools want to hear that you are dedicated to their philosophy of teaching. Applying to both programs may make you seem wishy washy and desperate. While these schools have separate application systems (AACOMAS and AMCAS) they may ask you on an interview where else you applied. You will be forced to explain why you could not commit to to one pathway. This can be a very awkward conversation and the mere fact that you applied to both programs can make an interviewer less likely to mark you favorably for admission.

Confused about which program is right for you, or how to fill out your application? Contact Us. We can help!

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