Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic medicine is very similar to allopathic medicine. Like allopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians deal with the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease. They practice preventative medicine and educate their patients. They are licensed to prescribe medication and perform surgery. Osteopathic medicine’s main difference from allopathic medicine is that it is traditionally concerned with the patient as a whole; it utilizes a “holistic” approach to the practice of medicine in general.

Osteopathic medicine was developed in 1874 by Dr. Andrew Still, M.D., who was concerned with the extensive use of ineffective or harmful medical practices and treatments in allopathic medicine.  He developed osteopathic medicine as a method of treatment that emphasizes the musculoskeletal system and a concern for the human patient as a complete entity. 

General Information

There are 30 osteopathic medical colleges in the U.S. The greatest number of schools is located in the Midwest where osteopathic medicine was established.

Osteopathic medical programs are four years in length and consist of two years of basic science courses and two years of clinical training. Clinical training is composed of clerkships where the student spends time in a clinical setting under the supervision of one or more mentors. After receiving the DO degree, graduates may serve a 12-month internship approved by the American Osteopathic Association. Completion of the internship allows the DO to begin the general practice of medicine. The graduate, however, may apply for entry into specialty training in a variety of MD or DO residency programs ranging from two to six additional years.

Clinical Experience

The American Osteopathic Association maintains a list of the individual state associations:  http://www.osteopathic.org/inside-aoa/about/affiliates/Pages/state-osteopathic-medical-associations.aspx  You should contact the association for your state and ask for a DO who is willing to mentor pre-med students in the your area.

The Massachusetts Association of osteopathic physicians suggests going to the iLearn Mentor Program website:  http://cf.osteopathic.org/iLearn/home.cfm, which pairs students with DOs, and to http://www.osteopathic.org/Pages/default.aspx to find and call DOs in the area.  You should call a few offices that you find through the websites to ask if they would be willing to have you shadow them.

Application Process

The Application Service, or AACOMAS, is the centralized application service for osteopathic medical schools. Applicants submit a single application to AACOMAS, which then sends a standard applicant packet to each of the medical schools to which you are applying.

Osteopathic schools often require a letter of evaluation from a pre-health advisory committee, rather than several individual letters. Each applicant who seeks a committee letter of evaluation will be interviewed by several members of the Stonehill Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee, who will then condense the comments of science faculty, non-science faculty, and employers, which you will have previously gathered, into a single letter of evaluation to be submitted to optometry schools

If an osteopathic school is seriously considering you for admission, they will most likely request a personal interview.

Entrance Exam

The Medical College Admission Test, MCAT, is required for admission by all U.S. medical schools. During and after medical school, you will have to pass nationally standardized licensure and certification exams. The MCAT is designed to show those candidates who have demonstrated content mastery and proficiency in this kind of testing. Studies have shown that MCAT scores are statistically reliable and valid predictors of academic success in the basic medical sciences in medical school. Some medical schools conduct a preliminary screening based entirely on GPA and MCAT scores as a component of the process of selecting those applicants to be interviewed.

The MCAT is a multiple choice examination that is approximately 4.5 hours long and consists of the following four examinations in order:

  • Physical sciences. This section consists of 52 physics/general chemistry questions to be completed in 70 minutes.
  • Approximately 80% of the questions are in passage format, while the rest are stand-alone questions.
  • Verbal Reasoning. This sections consists of 40 verbal reasoning questions to be completed in 60 minutes.
  • Writing Sample. In this section, you must complete two 30-minute essays. 
  • Biological sciences. This section consists of 52 biology/organic chemistry questions to be completed in 70 minutes. Again, approximately 80% of the questions are in passage format.

Only an introductory-level knowledge of physics, general chemistry, biology, and organic chemistry is required for the MCAT. However, the test determines how well you can apply this introductory material to problem-solving questions, not simply if you have it memorized. Each section is scored on a scale of 1 to 15. You need a combined score of about 30 to be a competitive medical school applicant. According to Princeton Review, the most important area of the MCAT in which to excel is the Verbal Reasoning section.

MCAT 2014

Subject CoveredType of ExamExam LengthWhen GivenWhere TakenContact Info to Register
Physical Sciences Verbal Reasoning Writing Sample Biological Sciences (biology and organic chemistry) Computer Multiple Choice Essays 4 hr 30 min AM and PM Sessions Available multiple times late January through September Test centers throughout the US and globally www.amc.org/mcat
Test PrepCost of ExamObtaining ScoreReporting ScoreScore RecordNote
www.aamc.org/mcat $275.00 Financial aid available (discounted to $100.00) Scores released 30-35 days later via MCAT Testing History (THx) system Scores automatically uploaded to AAMCAS Schools may determine how far back they want the score record to go New test in January 2015: deleting the writing section and adding psychology and sociology questions

Suggested Coursework

The following is a list of undergraduate courses that typically satisfy the prerequisites for osteopathic medical programs:

  • Chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab* (1 semester)
  • Biology with lab (1 year)
  • Physics with lab (1 year)
  • English (1 year)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics, Behavioral Sciences, and Statistics are also strongly recommended.

 * Biochemistry majors may take Organic Chemistry I  & Inorganic Chemistry (8 credits – CHM 221 & 244)


American Osteopathic Association (AOA)

142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(800) 621-1773

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)

5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
(301) 968-4100

Khan Academy MCAT 2015 Test Content Videos


Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (MCAT2015), Fourth Edition*

*A free copy of this guide is available in the Office of Career Services in the Kruse Center, Cushing-Martin Hall.  You may visit the office to check out the guide to determine if you would like to purchase your own copy or not.