Pre-med? Consider DO vs. MD.

Amspoker Cropped

Westminster’s Dr. Michael Amspoker, professor of Biology and the current Cameron D. Day Chair in Biology, advises Westminster students about careers in the health professions.

Here, he shares a Q&A on the difference between an MD and a DO for students.


What’s the difference between an MD and a DO?

Aside from teaching osteopathic manipulative medicine, the training for Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) and Doctors of Medicine (M.D.) is essentially the same. D.O. and M.D. physicians take the same boards, complete residencies in hospitals and training programs and are licensed in all states. They share the same rights and responsibilities, including military service. Both are equally competent to treat diseases.

M.D.’s follow an allopathic approach to medicine, using what is often referred to as “Western medicine” – focused on remedies such as prescription drugs and surgery. In comparison, D.O.’s follow osteopathy, focused on treating the body as an integrated whole and seeking wellness for patients through preventative and primary care and health education. D.O.’s are often found in internal medicine specialties, family practice, pediatrics, OB-GYN and general surgery.

If you are thinking about a career in medicine, what should you consider when deciding between the two?

The AMA defines a physician as an individual who has received an M.D. or D.O. degree, so either degree will permit the holder to serve as a general practitioner or as a specialist.  Schools of osteopathic medicine place less weight on MCAT scores than medical schools when considering candidates for admission.

If you are planning your undergraduate career path towards a DO, is there anything you need to keep in mind – make sure you do?

In addition to good grades and solid MCAT scores, schools of osteopathic medicine encourage students interested in the profession to shadow a D.O. before they apply for admission.

For additional information, contact Dr. Michael Amspoker.

Interested in going pre-med at Westminster? Find our more about our Biology major and Health Professions.


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