Allopathic medical schools award the M.D. degree after four years of study. The first two years typically consist of foundational science courses and their application to the study of medicine. The final two years are more patient-focused and the student is exposed to a variety of specialties within the medical field. Following graduation, students undergo more advanced, specialized training through a residency program in a field of their choice, typically between 3-8 years. Depending on the speciality, a fellowship may be required.
Today's health care and scientific environment supports a compelling argument for combining a D.O. degree with a Ph.D. Although physicians can develop an investigative career without a Ph.D., a joint program is ideal for training highly motivated individuals as excellent clinicians with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying disease processes. It prepares physician-scientists with training in research methodologies to use in the study of these mechanisms. This dual perspective brings a unique approach to both clinical practice and the investigation of biomedical problems.
DO/PhD Programs and Other Dual Degrees
MD-PhD programs provide training in both medicine and research. They are specifically designed for students who want to become research physicians, also known as physician-investigators or physician-scientists. Graduates of MD-PhD programs often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes. Regardless of where they eventually end up, MD-PhD trainees are being prepared for careers in which they will spend most of their time doing research, not just taking care of patients. It is a busy, challenging and hugely rewarding career that offers opportunities to do good for many people by advancing knowledge, developing new treatments for diseases and pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.
Osteopathic physicians consider the whole person, including physical, emotional and spiritual components. They also use a hands-on system of diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. They work in partnership with their patients to help each individual maintain their health. And they can specialize in any medical field, practice the full scope of modern medicine, complete important medical research, advise policymakers, and contribute to societal health and well-being in many ways.
Educated consumers of medicine are increasingly demanding patient-centered, preventative medical care, and the osteopathic philosophy - that the body has a natural ability to heal itself, that the health of the musculoskeletal system is inherently linked to the functioning of other parts of the body and that a patient-centered approach to health is optimal - is becoming a key player in today's medical education.
Students interested in keeping a broad range of options open should research osteopathic medicine. It is also important to know that admission to osteopathic programs, while competitive, is often possible for students whose grades and especially test scores are slightly below those of students generally competitive for allopathic admission.
Alumni Contact List: The HPAO maintains a list of alumni who have agreed to serve as a reference for future applicants. Students may inquire with the HPAO to obtain access to this list.