While most of us consider a physician to be an M.D., or practitioner of allopathic medicine, there is another type of physician. A Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) has been trained in a slightly different philosophy based on treating the whole person and not just the single disease of the person. M.D.'s and D.O.'s work side-by-side in both clinical and hospital settings.
Although there are 125 allopathic medical schools in the United States, there are only 18 osteopathic schools. Osteopathic schools have basically the same requirements as allopathic schools. The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) is a centralized application service for all the osteopathic schools.
Applicants to osteopathic medical schools are similar to applicants of allopathic medical schools in that they have a strong background in the natural sciences. Osteopathic programs are four years in length, and consist of two years of osteopathic medical training followed by two years of electives in various specialty areas. Osteopathic training emphasizes preparing graduates to work as primary care physicians using a "whole person" approach and focusing on prevention of illness. Upon graduation, D.O.'s choose the specialty into which they want to practice by selecting a residency program.
This brochure describes differences and similarities between osteopathic and allopathic physicians and their respective training programs.
For more information on specific osteopathic programs, check out:
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
The Osteopathic Medical College Book
Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine of Midwestern University
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine