Find out more about Family Medicine Residency here

Osteopathic Residency Programs


Undergraduate Prerequisites For Doctor Of Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic Residency Programs What Is An Osteopathic Doctor?

Most people don't know that doctors are separated into two categories: osteopathic doctors (D.O.) and allopathic doctors (M.D.). Both types of doctors typically earn four-year undergraduate degrees and also complete internships and residencies to obtain their medical licenses. Osteopathic doctors, however, bring something extra to medicine. Rather than focusing on one aspect of the body or specific illnesses they practice a "whole person." Their primary focus is preventative health care. They also receive 300 - 500 hours of additional training in the musculoskeletal system. "Approximately 65% of practicing osteopathic physicians specialize in primary care areas, such as pediatrics, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, and internal medicine." (American Osteopathic Association).

Earning a Degree

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine usually earn a four-year undergraduate degree with their emphasis being on the sciences. They also complete four years of basic medical training then receive their medical license by fulfilling the requirements for an internship and residency.

To be accepted to an osteopathic medical school the applicant must have a bachelor's degree with undergraduate studies that include a minimum of: -One year of General Chemistry (including a lab).

-One year of Organic Chemistry (including a lab).

-One year of Inorganic Chemistry (including a lab).

-One year of Physics (including a lab).

-One year of English.

-One year in the Biological Sciences (including a lab).

-One year of Calculus or other advanced math course (including Statistics).

This is a general list of required courses. Some colleges will require more laboratory hours or additional courses such as Genetics or courses in the Behavioral Sciences. When doing your undergraduate studies choose a major that is of interest or importance to you. It is important to know that you do not have to be a science major to gain entrance into a medical school. Some students have stated that they felt more confident in their interview with the Premedical Advisory Committee because their chosen course of study showed that they were well rounded by having extensive knowledge in more than just the sciences. The American Medical Association also provides information on prerequisites, interview tips, extra-curricular activities and what to expect once you've been admitted to a school. This information can be found at

Pre-med programs are going to be different at various schools. Most schools are looking for students that have a strong knowledge base in the natural sciences, strong communications skills and also extensive experience in the health field. Most of the experience you gain will come from volunteer work and internships. Schools will also vary with their academic requirements but most will require a minimum GPA of 3.7 especially in the biological sciences.

Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

An applicant is required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The test should be taken within three years of the desired date of entrance into a school. Although grade point averages and MCAT scores are top priority when being chosen for a school, committees also look at a student's extra-curricular activities, their involvement in the community and also letters of recommendation. When preparing to take the MCAT take into consideration the following:

-Getting an "A" in all of your pre-med courses will not ensure that you will get a high MCAT score.

-The MCAT not only tests your knowledge of the subject but also your test taking skills.

-Don't make the mistake of thinking that you have to memorize every question. By doing this you will burn yourself out before its time to take the test.

-When taking the test make sure you read the entire question before selecting an answer. A lot of students tend to read the first part of the question thinking they know what's coming next and are quick to fill in an answer. Read the whole question before you choose an answer.

MCAT scores that determine entrance into a school are going to vary among universities in the United States. Each state, and each school within that state, may have different requirements. Generally speaking GPA scores will not be less than 3.5 and competitive MCAT scores will not fall below 8.0 for any university. There are several ways to prepare for the test. The following are websites that will give you tips on how to take the test and will also provide practice tests:

-Official MCAT Website:

-Kaplan Test Preparation:

Extracurricular Activities, Internships and Letters of Recommendation

It will be of great benefit to you to join different medical organizations and to be involved in as many extracurricular activities that your schedule allows. Do not overwhelm yourself with activities that will take your focus away from your academic studies. Join university clubs that will show you have an extensive knowledge base in more than just the health sciences. If you plan on doing volunteer work know that it does not have to be health related. Again, this shows that you have knowledge in other fields. If you decide to work in a health related field some suggestions would be working as an Emergency Medical Technician, Patient Care Technician or a Certified Nurses' Assistant. According to the American Osteopathic Association committees look for students with some of the following characteristics:

-Strong communication skills and interpersonal relationship skills.

-Compassionate and giving.

-Come from a diverse background.

-Are well rounded.

-Have participated in university clubs and other extracurricular activities.

-Have experience in a health related field.

-Good moral character.

-Show a strong desire in osteopathic medicine.

-Work experience abroad.

Letters of recommendation will be an integral part of the application process. Make sure that when you ask for a letter of recommendation that the person writing it knows you well and has a high opinion of you. A recommendation from an osteopathic physician will be a strong addition to your application.

Osteopathic Medical School

Once you've been admitted into a medical school you can expect four years of training. The first two years will focus on basic sciences. The third and fourth years will consist mainly of internships and clinical work experience in different fields of medicine. You will work under the close supervision of a clinical professor and a lot of the work you do will include research. Most of the experience you gain will be through local teaching hospitals, doctor's offices and other major medical centers.

You may also elect to do "away rotations." These are done at other hospitals and you must obtain approval by the dean of your medical school to work in these facilities. Away rotations give you the opportunity to work with and make an impression on other facilities and attending physicians. This is beneficial to you if you've already chosen a hospital where you want to complete your residency. After graduation you will be given a chance to choose the specialty you want to work in and will complete a residency in this area. A residency requires and additional two to six years of training depending on your specialty.

According to US News the following are the top 10 medical schools in the United States for research and primary care:


-Harvard University

-Johns Hopkins University

-Washington University in St. Louis

-Duke University

-University of Pennsylvania

-University of California San Francisco

-Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

-Stanford University

-University of Michigan Ann Arbor

-Yale University

Primary Care:

-University of Washington

-Oregon Health and Science University

-University of California San Francisco

-Michigan State University of Osteopathic Medicine

-University of Minnesota Duluth

-University of California San Diego

-University of New Mexico

-University of Wisconsin Madison

-University of Iowa: Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver

-University of Minnesota Twin Cities

-University of Rochester


American Osteopathic Association, "Becoming a D.O." American Osteopathic Association, "What Is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.", Tara Kuther, Ph.D., "What's the Difference Between Allopathic and Osteopathic Medicine?"

By Dimpel Nagin Patel - Dimpel is very passionate about her writing, as she has suffered serious and chronic health problems since 2001. Her writing career began as an outlet, due to her health problems, and turned into something...