The field of Osteopathic Medicine, which was begun as a reform movement in the late nineteenth century, is a widely respected alternative to allopathic medicine in the U.S. Originally based on a holistic philosophy, this area of medicine evaluates the whole body as its various systems interrelate in diagnosis and treatment, and is thus traditionally a primary care area. As you consider osteopathy, remember that osteopathy programs seek applicants who are genuinely interested in their field rather than those who apply merely as a way to improve their odds of acceptance to a medical program. Graduates of osteopathic school are awarded the degree Doctor of Osteopathy, or D.O. (not to be confused with the O.D. of Optometrists). D.O.s and M.D.s work and train side-by-side and are eligible for the same residencies.
While the admission requirements vary for each of the U.S. osteopathic medical schools, they generally include one academic year of English, Biology, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, and Physics ( i.e. the same requirements as in allopathic medical school). Because admission to osteopathic colleges is competitive, it is advisable to check the grade point average standards of the particular schools to which you are applying. All osteopathy programs require the MCAT. Participation in extracurricular activities pertaining to osteopathic medicine and community service through internships or summer employment is strongly encouraged.
Akin to applications to allopathic schools, applying to osteopathic colleges is centralized. You will send one application to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) along with one set of official transcripts and your MCAT scores. The service then distributes your documents to the osteopathic schools you specify. Upon receipt of your AACOMAS application, the schools will request you to furnish supplementary materials which typically include two or three letters of recommendation from your professors, a letter of evaluation from an osteopathic doctor, and possibly other documents which vary depending on the college.