Medicine

There are two kinds of practicing physicians in the United States: allopathic physicians (MDs) and osteopathic physicians (DOs). Both are fully licensed physicians, trained in diagnosing and treating illnesses and disorders, and in providing preventive care.

Pre-med students should educate themselves about both allopathic and osteopathic medicine. Explore the differences between allopathic and osteopathic physicians to determine which path towards becoming a licensed physician interests you the most. Explorehealthcareers.org is a great starting place to get an overview of the field of medicine.

What is Allopathic Medicine?

Allopathic medicine takes an approach, based in biology, toward diagnosing illnesses and treating injuries.  It is the practice of medicine that is most familiar to westerners as the MD (Medical Doctor).  The strong popularity of allopathic medicine is associated with the recent rise in scientific research, the discovery of vaccinations, and healing pharmaceuticals.  There are 26 specialty areas available for consideration.

 Allopathic Doctors typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses in patients.
  • Examine patients.
  • Take medical histories.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests.

 Explore these resources and organizations about allopathic medicine

Source:  Occupational Outlook Handbook Physicians and Surgeons. 7 May 2013. United States Department of Labor. 17 May 2013 <http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm>.

What is Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic medicine provides all of the benefits of modern medicine including prescription drugs, surgery, and the use of technology to diagnose disease and evaluate injury. It also offers the added benefit of hands-on diagnosis and treatment through a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. Osteopathic physicians, also known as DOs, work in partnership with their patients. They consider the impact that lifestyle and community have on the health of each individual, and they work to break down barriers to good health. DOs are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments, including the military, and in all types of specialties, from family medicine to obstetrics, surgery, and aerospace medicine. There are 26 specialty areas available for osteopathic physicians, including surgery, the same as for medical doctors (MDs).

 Osteopathic Doctors typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses in patients.
  • Examine patients.
  • Take medical histories.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Use osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM).

 Explore these resources and organizations:

Source:  AACOM: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.  4 August 2015. <http://www.aacom.org/become-a-doctor/about-om#aboutom>.

Pre-Requisites

 

  • Many Allopathic and Osteopathic medical schools have the same core pre-requisite courses (see below). 
  • Individual medical schools may also have their own, unique, course requirements for competitive applicants. It is the applicant's duty to check the school's requirements and preferences to ensure that all pre-requisites are accounted for. 
  • Please check with the schools you plan to apply to regarding their policy on AP Credits. Some schools may or may not accept AP Credit.  If they do accept credits, an additional upper level course with a lab may be required.
  • Please see a PHMO advisor to create an academic plan that meets your timeline and goals.

Below are the most common pre-med pre-requisites; remember that this list is of the CORE classes, and some schools may require or recommend additional courses. 

  • Biology 141* and 142 with labs 
  • Chemistry 141 and 142 with labs
  • Chemistry 221 and 222 with labs 
  • Physics 141 and 142 with labs 
  • Biochemistry (Biol 301 or Chem 301)
  • QTM 100 or Math 107
  • 6-8 semester hours of college English/writing (CWR classes in the English language can fulfill this requirement)
  • Some exposure to Psychology, Sociology, and/or Anthropology 

*If you use AP credit for Biol 141, you must still take the Biol 141 Lab. We recommend taking Biol 240 along with Biol 141 Lab if you plan on using AP credit to replace Biol 141.  Please discuss with a pre-health advisor if you have any questions.

Application Process

For Allopathic Medicine (MD)

Refer to Ready to Apply? and talk with your pre-health advisor to determine your timeline and readiness to apply.

Admissions Exam: Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Application Service for Allopathic Medicine: American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). Texas public schools use a different application service, Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service (TMDSAS)

Application timeline/deadline: AMCAS submission opens in early June each year. TMDSAS submission opens in May. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so we recommend applying as early in the cycle as possible; be sure to review all important dates on the application services' websites and discuss your timeline with your pre-health advisor.  

Letters of Recommendation:  Medical schools typically require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation. You should verify specific recommendation requirements with each school. Emory’s Career Center offers a Credentials File to collect letters of recommendation that will be sent to the appropriate professional schools.  The PHMO offers a Composite Letter for  students who have completed the Composite Letter application requirements by their given deadlines.  

Applicant Preparation:  The PHMO offers support for pre-health students to prepare their application, personal statement, and interviewing skills. Workshops are offered at certain points throughout the year, so pay attention to announcements in the PreHealth Newsletter (register here) or check the Upcoming PreHealth Events frequently. Start early to ensure you have ample time to prepare and practice.

For Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

Refer to Ready to Apply? and talk with your pre-health advisor to determine your timeline and readiness to apply.

Admissions Exam: Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Application Service: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)

Letters of Recommendation:  Medical schools typically require a minimum of 3 letters of recommendation. You should verify specific recommendation requirements with each school. Emory’s Career Center offers a Credentials File to collect letters of recommendation that will be sent to the appropriate professional schools.  The PHMO offers a Composite Letter for  students who have completed the Composite Letter application requirements by their given deadlines.  

Applicant Preparation:  The PHMO offers support for pre-health students to prepare their application, personal statement, and interviewing skills. Workshops are offered at certain points throughout the year, so pay attention to announcements in the PreHealth Newsletter (register here) or check the Upcoming PreHealth Events frequently. Start early to ensure you have ample time to prepare and practice.