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Osteopathic Medicine


Programs in osteopathic medicine prepare people to work as doctors.

Programs in osteopathic medicine prepare people to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders. Students learn to adjust the connective tissues in the human body. They also learn to counsel and instruct patients. Doctors of osteopathy (D.O.'s) may prepare to work in general practice or may choose to specialize. To specialize, they choose a medical residency program other than general or family practice.

Osteopathic medicine programs include topics such as:


While in osteopathic medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.


Several universities and specialized schools offer osteopathic medical programs. Students earn a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. This usually requires four years of full-time study beyond a bachelor’s degree.


After graduating from osteopathic medical school, students usually get additional training in a residency program. This is paid on-the-job training where they get more in-depth exposure and experience.

See schools that offer this program.

Graduate Admissions

Admission to medical school is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). You also need letters of recommendation. Schools normally require that these letters be from:

Most schools require a personal interview as well.

You also need to take the following college-level courses before applying:

Some schools require that you take biochemistry and a behavioral science such as psychology.

Typical Course Work

Graduate Program Courses

Course work in osteopathic medical school is usually divided into two parts: the basic clinical sciences and clinical clerkship rotations. You typically take the clinical sciences courses in the first and second years of the program. These courses usually include some combination of the following:

You participate in clinical clerkships in the third and fourth years of medical school. These are hands-on opportunities to learn how to apply the information you acquired in the previous years to real-life clinical settings. An experienced osteopathic doctor supervises you.

Each clerkship lasts several weeks - long enough to experience a representative range of medical principles and problems and short enough to participate in different areas as well. Some of the possible areas in which you might clerk include:

Things to Know

Like MDs, a DO can choose to specialize in a particular field such as gerontology or cardiology. However, osteopathic medical schools tend to focus on training students to be primary care physicians.

Osteopathic doctors emphasize a whole-body approach. This means that they evaluate the overall health of their patients, including home and work environments as factors. This approach also emphasizes a body's natural ability to heal itself.

You need to be licensed before you can practice. Licensure is granted on a state-to-state basis, and requirements vary.

For all states, you need to successfully complete the Comprehensive Osteopathic Licensure Exam (COMLEX). The exam consists of three parts, which are taken during medical school, at the end of medical school, and at the end of your internship.


Yakima Area

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences