I have found that when I suggest that students apply to both M.D. and D.O. schools, they often don’t know the difference or have a poor understanding of one or the other. In this post, I will explore the differences between the two types of U.S. doctors and what that means for you as a pre-med and med school applicant.
First of all, what do these letters stand for and what do they mean?
M.D. = Doctor of Medicine (allopathic). This is the general, more common type of medical doctorate degree that is awarded upon completion of allopathic medical school in the U.S.
D.O. = Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. This is the slightly less common type of medical doctorate degree awarded upon completion of osteopathic medical school in the U.S.
So, what’s the difference?
Let me start by saying that if you are about to start studying or have started studying for the MCAT, you are facing one of the most challenging times in all of undergrad. However, it is a rite of passage for all premeds, and everyone in medical school has done this successfully before you. So you can and will get through it!
To help you get through this, I have complied a brief list of MCAT Study Tips & Tricks that I picked up along the way and learned from others. This list is not exhaustive, though. If you have any tips or tricks of your own that I did not address, please leave them in the comment section below.
If you are getting ready to apply to medical school and you objectively consider yourself a “lower ranking” applicant, there are many things you can do to help improve your chances. If you have decided that you are ready to apply (remember, there is NO rush to do this!), consider the following points when organizing yourself in preparation for your applications.
Shadowing a physician will be one of the most important experiences you have as a pre-med student. Being at the doctors side, observing the process of medicine and patient care at work, will give you a great perspective on your chosen field. Spending some time with a physician will quickly show you whether or not you are meant for medicine. Not only will you get to see what it’s like to be a doctor, you will get personal experience working with patients. Medical school adcoms value this experience highly in applicants, because they know that you know what you’re getting into and that you truly love it.
So you climbed the mountain of prerequisites that serves as the first major weed-out system for pre-meds? If you did so with success, give yourself some credit. If you are the typical pre-med, you likely took Physics and Organic Chemistry in the same semester, with labs, with other classes to fill credit requirements, while working and/or shadowing and doing research and volunteering and making A’s. Phew! *shudders from traumatic flashbacks*
Now that that’s over with, what classes should you take? What should you be doing?
Every pre-med is aware of the requirement of writing a personal statement before applying to medical school. Every pre-med also knows how dreaded this essay is. The personal statement can be one of the toughest parts of your application because it will likely amount to one of the most challenging essays you’ve ever written. In 5300 characters or less (strictly), you are required to show medical school Admissions Committees (adcoms) why you are worthy of an interview and acceptance without sounding like a pretentious a-hole. This is no easy feat.
Even though it may be tough, it is very important to submit your application with an excellent personal statement. The PS is the first introduction that adcoms get to you as a person. In this essay, you typically answer the question, “Why medicine?” The way in which you choose to answer this question, while displaying your admirable personal qualities and accomplishments, is what can get tough. The process of writing the statement usually involves several drafts with significant amounts of editing. The time and effort are worth it, though, because a marginal personal statement is likely to cost you an interview.
So where do you begin?
This entry is based on students who have already completed their MCAT and leaves out any information regarding Pre-health committee specifics. For information on those topics (MCAT and/or Pre-health Committee), see our other entries.
So, you want to be a doctor? As a pre-med, envisioning that letter of acceptance to medical school is the stuff of daily fantasy. Some pre-meds are neurotic enough to know every single requirement for applying to medical school by the first week of their undergrad career (yes, I was this neurotic pre-med). You may know what med schools require of their applicants but are you aware of the entire application process? Applying to medical school is long and arduous, with seemingly endless deadlines and requirements. In order for you to be as knowledgeable and prepared as possible, I have prepared an outline of the entire process of applications. This outline should not be your only resource when you are going through your applications. It is, however, a great introduction into what you should be expecting in your near future.