Don’t Look Back: Why I Chose to Go to a DO School over an MD School

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • Unfortunately, there aren’t many people who actually choose to go to a DO (osteopathic) school for medical school. There still is a stigma about having a DO after your name. There’s a sense that many, if not most, who end up at a DO school go there because they couldn’t get into an MD school. I’m one of the few people I know of who chose to attend a DO school over MD programs. I’ll tell you why I did:

    Osteopathic Medicine Philosophy

    I had an  average MCAT score, so I wasn’t turning down Harvard to attend a osteopathic medical school. However, I did interview and get offers at several allopathic (MD) universities. After visiting and researching the schools, I found that none of them offered what I wanted most: a medical school that had at its forefront a mission to serve people, each with a unique dignity and purpose.  

    The first thing that comes to mind when people think of osteopathic medicine is that it’s more “holistic.” For many, this word evokes the false perception that DOs practice some kind of alternative medicine. That’s not why osteopathy attracted me.

    What drew me in was the philosophy that osteopathic doctors treat all dimensions of the patient: mind, body, and spirit. I had grown weary of modern medicine’s empiricism; for me, it too often manifests as a lack of compassion. Osteopathic medicine seemed to have an answer. As I researched the profession, this idea of treating the whole person – of gaining a deeper understanding of their lifestyle and environment, not just their symptoms – struck me.

    School Location and Feel

    Location is certainly a luxury that not all applicants can afford to consider, but for my wife and I it was very important. Being close to family provided me with the ultimate support system going through medical school. Looking back, I appreciate even more how invaluable it was for me to have been a mere twenty minutes away from family.

    Another chief reason I ended up at an DO school was the feel I got while attending interview day. The campus was tucked back in a forest preserve, away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. The staff was kind and welcoming, the facilities were gorgeous. I felt at home. This subjective feeling carries a lot of weight in many people’s big decisions, as it did for me.

    Calling to Practice Osteopathic Medicine

    Above all, what mattered most in my decision to attend an osteopathic medical school was a deep calling to do so. I developed a strong conviction that becoming a DO was the right choice for me, and had the faith to follow through. All the major decisions I’ve made in my life have involved this type of discernment.

    However strange and inexplicable a calling may sometimes be, I believe people are happiest when they follow it. This calling led me to osteopathic medicine, and I never regretted it.