Best Osteopathic Medical Schools

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Best Osteopathic Medical Schools
Best Osteopathic Medical Schools

A large number of medical school applicants apply to both allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools. If you’re passionate about caring for patients but want to go a different route, an osteopathic medical school may be right for you. 

A branch of medicine focused on the way different bodily systems work together, osteopathic medicine involves assessing lifestyle and environmental factors while also considering traditional approaches like medicine and surgery. The goal of this more holistic approach is to help the body heal itself while preventing future illness. 

It’s important to know that most osteopathic medical school graduates go on to become primary care physicians. Moreover, a large number of DOs (doctors of osteopathic medicine) go on to work as general practitioners in rural parts of the country, though some do pursue other specialities in a variety of locations. 

As a DO, you can expect to treat a wide range of problems, including asthma, migraines, sinus disorders, and muscular and joint issues. Keep reading to learn more about osteopathic medical schools and discover whether they might be the right choice for your future goals.

MD Versus DO Medical Schools

It’s important to note that DO programs have lower acceptance rates than allopathic schools. While the standards aren’t necessarily higher than at other medical schools — in fact, student statistics at osteopathic schools tend to be slightly lower — there are currently only 37 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the nation. As a result, competition is intense at top schools. 

Although DO schools often admit students with lower GPAs — 3.47 compared to 3.72 in MD programs — these institutions still enjoy a high ranking when compared to traditional medical schools. In fact, 13 of the 37 DO schools appear on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best medical schools based on their research reputation. 

School NameAverage MCATAverage GPAAverage BCPM GPAAcceptance Rate
Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine5013.43.310%
Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicineof Midwestern University5083.543.48NA
Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine4983.46NA25%
A.T. Still University of Health SciencesKirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine5033.613.53NA
A.T. Still University of Health SciencesSchool of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona5043.483.37NA
Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicineat New Mexico State UniversityNANANANA
California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic MedicineNEW SCHOOLNEW SCHOOLNEW SCHOOLNEW SCHOOL
Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine5033.53.58NA
Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicineof Midwestern University5033.673.61NA
Des Moines UniversityCollege of Osteopathic Medicine5063.63NA16%
Georgia Campus: Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine503NANA12%
Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine5033.453.4NA
Kansas City University of Medicine and BiosciencesCollege of Osteopathic MedicineNANANANA
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine5023.56NA8%
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic MedicineBradenton CampusNANANANA
Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineNANANANA
Lincoln Memorial UniversityDeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine4993.5NA9%
Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine5043.6NA16%
Michigan State UniversityCollege of Osteopathic MedicineNANANANA
New York Institute of TechnologyCollege of Osteopathic Medicine5043.6NANA
Nova Southeastern University5043.58NA9%
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine502.433.643.58NA
Oklahoma State University Center for Health SciencesCollege of Osteopathic MedicineMinimum MCAT = 492NANANA
Pacific Northwest University of Health SciencesCollege of Osteopathic Medicine5023.433.356%
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine504NANA9%
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine Colorado5053.63.53%
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine Colorado5063.6NANA
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine5033.64NA7%
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - New York5033.4NA10%
Touro University - CaliforniaTouro University College of Osteopathic Medicine5083.513.458%
Touro University - NevadaTouro University Nevada College of Osteopathic MedicineNANANANA
University of the Incarnate WordSchool of Osteopathic Medicine5013.523.44NA
University of New EnglandCollege of Osteopathic Medicine5043.57NA10%
University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort WorthTexas College of Osteopathic Medicine5053.63NA12%
University of Pikeville - Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine4993.54NA8%
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Virginia4993.6NA12%
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Auburn4993.6NA12%
Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine - Carolinas4993.6NA12%
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine4983.5NA8%
Western University of Health SciencesCollege of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific5063.63NA7%
William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine5003.4NANA

What You Need to Get into the Best Osteopathic Medical Schools

With so few osteopathic medical schools across the U.S., students who hope to become DOs need to find ways of standing out from the pack. Here are some key aspects to consider if you want to ensure your application packet makes the right impression on admissions committees:

 

Average GPA and MCAT Scores for Osteopathic Medical School

Academic qualifications play a key role in DO school admissions. While there’s no required major for aspiring osteopaths, most applicants earned a bachelor’s in life sciences. Other popular majors include social sciences, physical sciences, and arts and humanities. Although the average cumulative GPA was 3.54 for DO school matriculants, students had a slightly higher non-science GPA at 3.59.

MCAT scores also play a vital role in DO program admissions. The mean MCAT score for osteopathic medical school matriculants was 504 according to the most recent published data. 

 

Extracurriculars

While academics are important, the most competitive DO school applicants also boast an impressive extracurricular profile. As is the case with MD programs, DOs should look for opportunities to showcase their talent for leadership and research. When in doubt, choose quality over quantity and focus on a handful of activities about which you’re truly passionate.

Because spots are limited at top schools, students need to find ways of demonstrating their interest in osteopathic medicine. One of the best ways to show your interest in the field is to shadow a current osteopathic doctor. Institutions also want to know that students excel at working with patients, so it’s a good idea to seek out opportunities that allow for direct patient interaction. 

Additionally, students can convey their interest in holistic medicine by volunteering in their community. Because DOs work with patients to develop healthier lifestyles, applicants may want to donate their time teaching nutrition courses or seminars. The goal is to show that you’re truly devoted to the field and not just seeking an easier route to a medical degree.

 

Passionate Medical School Personal Statement

Whether you’re targeting osteopathic or allopathic medical schools, the programs will want to know that you’re truly passionate about your chosen career. While you can convey a great deal with your grades and extracurriculars, the personal statement is one of the best opportunities to convey both your love of the field and your goals for the future. To that end, you should ensure your essay reveals the following:

  • Why you want to pursue an osteopathic medical degree
  • What experiences helped show you that the field was right for you
  • How you know you’ll be a successful DO

While many students use the same medical school personal statement for both MD and DO applications, some opt to compose distinctive personal statements for each. After all, osteopathic schools are used to students applying because they think a DO program is an easier path to becoming a physician. Although it’s fine to apply to both types of schools, osteopathic institutions are looking for students with particular qualities and interests related to holistic medicine. Take time to compose a specific and detailed personal statement revealing why this branch of medicine is right for you.

 

DO Letter of Recommendation

Personal statements are vital, but you also need people willing to attest to your talents and abilities. If you want to increase your odds of acceptance at an osteopathic medical school, be sure to get a letter of recommendation from a current DO. Not only does this show schools you have a deep interest in the field, but it also indicates an understanding of what daily life as an osteopath entails. 

If you don’t currently know an osteopathic doctor, you may still be able to secure a recommendation letter. Start by asking your family doctor if they are or know a DO. If they don’t have a recommendation for you, consider searching the DO online directory to find a physician in your area. You may be able to shadow them for a period of time until they feel comfortable writing you a letter. As a bonus, this experience will help you decide if you truly want to be an osteopathic doctor or if an MD program might better suit your needs. The end result is that you’ll apply to medical schools feeling confident of your choice of speciality. 

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD
JESSICA FREEDMAN, M.D., is president of MedEdits Medical Admissions and author of the MedEdits Guide to Medical Admissions and The Medical School Interview. Follow Dr. Freedman and MedEdits on Facebook and Twitter.

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