What is Medicine?
Medicine is the practice of the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. A career in medicine is rigorous yet rewarding and offers clinicians the opportunity to practice in hundreds of specialties and in different clinical environments. Doctors can be found in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, the government (and/or military), private practices, in the lab, etc. For more information on physician opportunities and job statistics, please see the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physicians-and-surgeons.htm
Types of Medicine
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 specialty, a fellowship may be required.
Osteopathic medical schools award the D.O. degree after four years of study. 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.
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.
Dual Degree Programs
Some of the most popular dual degree are MD/PhD and DO/PhD programs. These programs are ideal for highly motivated individuals who will be trained as both excellent clinicians and scientists with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental mechanisms underlying disease processes. Regardless of where physician-scientists end up, they will spend equal (and often times more) time doing research than seeing patients. It is a busy, challenging and hugely rewarding career that offers opportunities to do good by advancing knowledge, developing new treatments and pushing back the boundaries of the unknown.