Just like allopathic physicians (MD's), osteopathic physicians go through a rigorous schooling and licensing process, and once they are practicing they must continue their medical education.
After acquiring a four-year undergraduate degree with requisite science classes, students are accepted into one of the nation's 21 osteopathic medical schools accredited by the Bureau of Professional Education of the American Osteopathic Association.
The first two years of the osteopathic medical curriculum focus on the basic sciences. The third and fourth years emphasize clinical work, with much of the teaching in community hospitals, major medical centers, and doctors' offices. During the clinical years, students study general medicine and are involved in research. They rotate through urban, suburban, and rural settings, gaining exposure to all areas of medicine.
As a reflection of the osteopathic philosophy, the curriculum emphasizes preventive medicine and holistic patient care. Medical students learn to use osteopathic principles and techniques of treatment (including OMT) throughout the curriculum.
Following graduation, DO's complete an approved 12-month internship. Interns rotate through hospital departments, including internal medicine, family practice, and surgery. They may then choose to complete a residency program in a specialty area, which requires two to six years of additional training.
Students interested in applying to an osteopathic medical school usually earn a bachelor's degree with a major in the sciences, but as long as they meet the minimum course and grade requirements, DO students may major in any discipline. Undergraduate studies should include at least one year each of English, biological sciences, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Other requirements may include genetics, mathematics, and psychology.
Applicants must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), and because osteopathic medicine is a people-oriented profession, prospective students must demonstrate a genuine concern for people. Applicants may wish to spend some time with a DO or do volunteer work in a healthcare setting before considering a career as an osteopathic physician.
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Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA) | Tallahassee, FL