MD, DO, DPM, PA… What to choose?

There are 3 Main branches of medical schools to think about before applying to medschool and the consideration of going to PA school. Traditionally, most people tend to only think about allopathic med schools where they would get a degree as an MD or Medical Doctor. However, Osteopathic and podiatric school offer the same training with a different approach to medicine. Make sure you do your research and choose the philosophy that best suits how you want to practice medicine in the future. Don’t forget to consider different programs as well such as MD/Ph.D. programs or Master degree paired programs. On the fence about MD/DO? Try clicking HERE 🙂 Please keep in mind that the average GPA and MCAT are only numbers. There are so many aspects of the application and many stories of people with low numbers and great stories that get into med school and many stories of people with great numbers and no experiences that don’t get in. Please don’t be discouraged and as always comment below with questions!

Allopathic Medicine, M.D.

Where to apply: AAMC                                                     Avg. GPA: 3.7

# of Applicants in 2014: 49,480                                     Avg. MCAT: 32 (88th Percentile, New MCAT: Aprox. 513)

# of Matriculants: 30,342

# of US schools: 141

Source: (2014 US Medical School Application and Matriculation, AAMC)

Most Pre-Meds choose to apply to MD programs as it is the traditional route to becoming a doctor. The general idea of med school that you can use to compare to the programs listed below is a 4-year program. The first 2 years of med school focus on sciences and book learning while the last 2 years are your clinical rotations where you spend time learning about certain specialties hands on. In year 4 you apply to internships/residencies and hope to get “matched” to the hospital program/specialty you want. During this time you study and take the USMLE Step 1-3 tests. USMLE Step 1 is taken after year 2, Step 2 after year 3 and Step 3 during residency. After Residency you take the Board Exams. If you choose to specialize further you can do a fellowship for 1-2 years. [Note: some medical residencies may vary in length]

Osteopathic Medicine, D.O.

Where to apply: AMCOMAS                                          Avg. GPA: 3.5 (and increasing!)

# of Applicants in 2014: 17,944                                    Avg. MCAT: 27 (61st Percentile, New MCAT: Aprox. 503)

# of Matriculants: 6,465

# of US schools: 30

Source: (2014 Osteopathic Medical College Applicant & Matriculant Profile, AACOM)

Many future doctors are choosing to apply to D.O. programs as the different philosophy of medicine is becoming more accepted. Even though DO’s have a different philosophy of “whole body” medicine, they still have all the same training as an M.D., other than the extra teaching of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) which focuses on a special training in the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. Many patients find this to be a benefit especially when it comes to back problems that have the potential of treatment through manipulation v.s. medication alone. Doctors of Osteopathic medicine learn other techniques that align with the philosophy of therapeutic techniques that emphasize preventative medicine.

I personally love their idea that all parts of the body work together and influence on another. Therefore, the patient should be viewed as a whole person. This means taking into account not only physical symptoms and diagnosis, but lifestyle, emotional well-being, and their environment. With the rising acceptance of D.O. training, residency programs are merging with creates even more equal training for both MD and DO programs.

If you’re thinking of going into primary care, a DO degree might be the choice for you as 52% of DO’s choose family practice, pediatrics, or other forms of primary care.

Podiatric Medicine, D.P.M

Where to apply: AACPMAS                                         Avg. GPA: 3.3

# of Applicants in 2014: ~1000                                     Avg. MCAT: 24 (43rd Percentile, New MCAT: Aprox. 498)

# of Matriculants: ~500-600

# of US schools: 9

Source: (FAQ, AACPM)

A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.), also known as a podiatrist, diagnosis and treats the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. There are options to specialize in surgery as well! Medschool structure is the same with 4 years, first 2 dedicated to sciences and last 2 toward clinical training. After graduation, you head on to a residency program. The focus of medicine is a bit different in that you primarily learn about the foot, ankle, and structure s of the leg. This is a very specific aspect of medicine. I’ve known a few close friends who’ve gone to podiatric surgeons for sports injuries specifically because they knew how to handle the ankle better than a general surgeon.

Physician’s Assistant, P.A.

Where to apply: CASPA

Avg. GPA: 3.3-3.7

Avg. GRE: Verbal: 149, Quant: 151, Analytical: 4.5

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the supervision of a physician or surgeon. PAs are trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment. Schooling is 2-3 years long without a residency program. Most students have a bachelor’s degree and 3 years’ experience in healthcare before starting in a PA program. Thinking about PA school? Click HERE 🙂

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– Megan 

#lifeinthegap #lifeasapremed


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