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Studying Osteopathy: What is Osteopathic Medicine?
Pathways to Admission

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Many people wonder, “What’s the difference between an osteopathic doctor and a regular medical doctor?”. A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is licensed to practice medicine, the same as any other doctor. The difference is that, unlike a typical M.D., osteopathic physicians practice a “whole person” approach to medical care.

This means that  DOs focus on treating the entire person, seeing the body as one unit, rather than individual symptoms. Doctors of Osteopathy place an emphasis on preventative medicine and comprehensive patient care, aiming to improve a person's overall health.


Becoming an osteopathic doctor also means aligning with and adhering to the four osteopathic principles:


How to Become an Osteopathic Doctor

Becoming an Osteopathic Doctor is similar to pursuing most other medical career paths. Below are the official steps to becoming licensed to practice that you’ll need to follow.

  1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit. 

  2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance. 

  3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated

  4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation and the interrelationship of structure and function

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Applying to Osteopathic Medical School 

Becoming an Osteopathic Doctor is similar to pursuing most other medical career paths. Below are the official steps to becoming licensed to practice that you’ll need to follow.

Next, you’ll need to study for and pass the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)

After these steps are completed, you’ll be ready to begin applying for the Osteopathic Medical Colleges of your choice. 

This four year graduate program is very similar to other accredited Medical Colleges, but you will also need to take  200 hours of hands-on training in osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Osteopathic medical school requirements

Completing Osteopathic Medical College is not the final step towards becoming an official D.O. You will also need to apply for and complete your Osteopathic Medicine Residency Program. In order to do so, you will need to show proof of passing either the:

  1. Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination

  2. United States Medical Licensure Exam

In addition to a residency program, you may also need to pursue a fellowship, or internship which in total can take anywhere from 3-8 years.

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How Pathways Will Help You Pursue Your Osteopathic Medical Career

Pathways to Admission is here to help with the entire osteopathic medical school admissions process, guiding you through your holistic health career path with years of college consulting experience..

We will help you:

  • Navigate the osteopathic medical college application process with calm and ease

  • Prepare for the required medical examinations 

  • Review your transcript & general advising

  • Assist in developing top choice and secondary choice D.O. college  & residency lists

  • Determine medical school application timeline and completion

  • Work through interview & essay preparation along with practicing interviewing skills

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  • Is there a difference between a BSN and RN?
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Ginny is a warm and knowledgeable professional! As a former high school college counselor and pediatric nurse, she really understands how to relate to young adults. In addition, she knows the nuances of nearly every college and has relationships with many admissions counselors. This is a stressful time and having her navigate the path to a successful college match was invaluable. I recommend her highly.

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Talk to Pathways on How to Become an Osteopathic Doctor

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