Top DO Schools: A Comprehensive Ranking and Guide

Looking to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine? Our comprehensive ranking and guide of the top DO schools will help you make an informed decision.

Posted May 11, 2023

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If you're considering a career in medicine, you may be weighing the pros and cons of different types of medical degrees. One possibility you may not have considered is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. In this comprehensive guide, we'll provide you with all the information you need to know about DO schools, from the history of osteopathic medicine to tips for getting accepted into a top program. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of what a DO degree entails and whether it's the right choice for you.

What is a DO degree and how is it different from an MD degree?

Before we dive into the specifics of DO schools, let's first clarify what a DO degree is and how it differs from an MD degree. The primary distinction between the two is that DOs focus on a more holistic, hands-on approach to healthcare. They view the body as a whole system and work to promote wellness rather than just treating specific symptoms or illnesses. In addition to traditional medical training, DOs also receive specialized education in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which involves using their hands to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal problems.

Another key difference between DOs and MDs is the emphasis on preventive care. DOs are trained to identify and address potential health issues before they become more serious problems. This includes educating patients on healthy lifestyle choices and providing guidance on nutrition, exercise, and stress management. Additionally, DOs often spend more time with their patients, getting to know them on a personal level and building strong relationships based on trust and communication.

The history and evolution of osteopathic medicine

The roots of osteopathic medicine can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Dr. Andrew Taylor Still founded the first osteopathic medical school in Missouri. Dr. Still believed in the importance of treating the whole person rather than just their individual symptoms. Over time, osteopathic medicine gained a following, and today, there are over 30 accredited DO schools in the United States.

Osteopathic medicine has continued to evolve and expand over the years. Today, DOs (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) are licensed to practice medicine in all 50 states and are recognized as fully licensed physicians. They receive the same training and have the same privileges as MDs (Doctors of Medicine), but also receive additional training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which involves using hands-on techniques to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. OMT can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including back pain, migraines, and asthma.

How DO schools are accredited and what it means for students

Before you start researching DO schools, it's important to understand how they are accredited. The Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) is the primary organization responsible for accrediting DO schools. Accreditation ensures that a school meets certain academic and professional standards, and it's an important factor to consider when choosing a program. If a school is not accredited, you will not be eligible for licensure in the United States.

It's also important to note that accreditation is not a one-time event. Schools must go through a rigorous review process every few years to maintain their accreditation status. This ensures that they continue to meet the standards set by COCA and provide a quality education to their students. Additionally, some DO schools may have additional accreditations from other organizations, such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for residency programs. Checking a school's accreditation status and any additional accreditations can give you a better understanding of the quality of education and training you can expect to receive.

Factors to consider when choosing a DO school

When you're evaluating different DO schools, there are several factors you should consider. One is location. Do you want to stay close to home, or are you open to moving for school? Other factors include the school's curriculum, faculty expertise, research opportunities, campus culture, and financial aid options. You should also consider the school's match rates for residency programs, which is a good indicator of its overall academic quality.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a DO school is the school's emphasis on hands-on training. DO schools typically place a strong emphasis on clinical experience and hands-on training, so it's important to research the school's clinical rotations and opportunities for practical experience. Additionally, you may want to consider the school's partnerships with local hospitals and healthcare facilities, as these can provide valuable opportunities for clinical experience and networking.

Ranking methodology: How we determined the top DO schools

In order to compile our ranking of the top DO schools in the United States, we considered a variety of factors, including academic quality, faculty expertise, research opportunities, residency match rates, and student outcomes. We also looked at student feedback, as well as national rankings from organizations like U.S. News & World Report.

Additionally, we conducted interviews with current students and alumni of each school to gain insight into the overall student experience and the quality of the school's curriculum. We also analyzed the availability of resources such as clinical rotations, research facilities, and extracurricular activities. Our goal was to provide a comprehensive and unbiased ranking of the top DO schools in the country, to assist prospective students in making informed decisions about their education and future careers.

Top 10 DO schools in the United States

Without further ado, here are the top 10 DO schools in the United States:

  • Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest
  • Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine

Note that this list is not exhaustive, and there are many other excellent DO schools to consider.

It is important to note that while these schools are considered the top DO schools in the United States, each school has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. It is important to research each school thoroughly and consider factors such as location, curriculum, and clinical rotations before making a decision on where to apply.

Campus culture and student life at top DO schools

One important factor to consider when choosing a DO program is the campus culture and student life. Each school has its own unique atmosphere, and it's important to find a program where you feel comfortable and supported. Many DO schools also have active student organizations and opportunities for community service and clinical experience.

Additionally, some DO schools offer unique programs or initiatives that can enhance your educational experience. For example, some schools have integrative medicine programs that incorporate alternative therapies into traditional medical practices. Others may have partnerships with local hospitals or clinics, providing students with hands-on experience in a real-world setting. It's important to research and consider these additional opportunities when choosing a DO program.

Faculty expertise and research opportunities at top DO schools

Another important factor to consider when evaluating DO programs is the faculty expertise and research opportunities. Many DO schools have faculty members with specialized expertise in areas like sports medicine, addiction medicine, and rural health. Research opportunities can also vary significantly between programs, so it's important to consider whether a school has research facilities and opportunities that align with your interests.

Furthermore, some DO schools have partnerships with nearby hospitals or medical centers, which can provide students with additional research opportunities and clinical experience. These partnerships may also offer access to specialized equipment or resources that may not be available on campus.

It's also worth considering the size of the faculty and the student-to-faculty ratio at each DO program. A smaller faculty may offer more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities, while a larger faculty may provide a wider range of expertise and research opportunities. Ultimately, it's important to research each program thoroughly and consider all factors when making a decision about where to pursue your DO degree.

Admissions requirements and tips for getting accepted into a top DO school

Admissions requirements for DO schools can vary, but most programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree and to have taken the MCAT exam. In addition to academic qualifications, DO schools also consider factors like extracurricular involvement, clinical experience, and demonstrated commitment to the field of medicine. To increase your chances of acceptance, it's important to start preparing early and to research each program's specific requirements and application process.

Financial aid options for DO students, including scholarships and loan repayment programs

The cost of medical school can be a significant barrier for many students, but there are a variety of financial aid options available for DO students. These include scholarships, grants, and loan repayment programs. It's important to research each school's financial aid options and to apply early to maximize your chances of receiving funding.

Career options for graduates of top DO schools, including specialties and practice settings

Graduates of DO programs are eligible for the same residency programs and career opportunities as MD graduates. Many DOs choose to specialize in fields like family medicine, pediatrics, and internal medicine, but there are also many other specialties available. DOs practice in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

Common misconceptions about osteopathic medicine debunked

There are several misconceptions about osteopathic medicine that are worth addressing. One is that DOs are less qualified than MDs. This is simply not true – both types of doctors undergo rigorous training and are licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Another misconception is that OMT is some kind of new-age, alternative therapy. In reality, it's a scientifically-validated technique that has been used for over a century.

A day in the life of a DO student

So what does a typical day in the life of a DO student look like? It can vary depending on the program, but most students spend their days attending lectures, participating in clinical rotations, and studying for exams. Many students also participate in extracurricular activities like volunteering at health clinics or conducting research.

The field of osteopathic medicine is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and predictions. One trend that is likely to continue is the increased demand for primary care physicians, which is a field that many DOs specialize in. Another trend is the use of technology, such as electronic health records and telemedicine, to provide more effective and efficient care.

Overall, a DO degree can be an excellent choice for students who are interested in a holistic approach to medicine. By understanding the history and evolution of osteopathic medicine, evaluating different DO programs, and considering factors like faculty expertise and career opportunities, you can make an informed decision about whether a DO degree is right for you.

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