DO vs MD: A Guide to The Best Online Comparisons
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Pre-med students face two paths on the road to graduation: to become doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) or doctors of medicine (MD). But which is best for your professional interests and career goals?
Luckily, there is a plethora of information online covering the differences of DO vs. MD, with lots of attempts at assessing “which is better.” These are from top universities, current students, consulting firms, and working physicians. However, the sheer amount of information is both a blessing and a curse. While there is plenty out there, where can you begin your search?
We have collected 14 resources, usually blog posts, that summarize the biggest differences between the DO vs. MD paths to help with your research. While these resources span everything from Ivy League advising to first-hand physician testimonies, we always recommend you also seek advice from your pre-health advising offices (if available).
Princeton Health Professions Advising
This Ivy League Health Professions Advising page is a resource we can’t recommend enough to all pre-meds. It goes into detail about who may be better suited for a DO position or an MD position, as well as explaining where these two paths intersect. If you are interested in learning how your personal interests can influence your medical career, Princeton Health Professions Advising breaks it down in a digestible way along with plenty of other information relevant to pre-meds.
American Medical Association
The American Medical Association has many resources that are beneficial to pre-meds, including articles on the DO vs. MD discussion. This recent article (just one of many) provides important statistics on both paths and what to expect in a career in either. Along with the many other articles and publications AMA shares, you can gain a comprehensive view of the medical field as a whole.
The Mayo Clinic sometimes releases publications and resources that can help pre-meds with their chosen education and career path. This includes answers from current MDs on the topic of DO vs. MD. This is just one example of the information available on the website that covers the different training and nuances between these two medical practices. This will be a different perspective that is worth hearing.
Columbia College Becker Center for Student Advising
Columbia College, another Ivy League, and one of the most elite undergraduate institutions in the US, offers many important resources to pre-meds. This includes a wealth of information on DO vs. MD on its Preprofessional Advising page. This resource provides a wide overview of the profession (both allopathic and osteopathic medicine) along with educational requirements to be aware of. While the information on this page is very broad, additional links and resources can provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of the admissions process, prerequisites, and more. This public website is helpful to everyone and, given the huge success Columbia undergraduates have in getting admitted to medical schools, they’re worth listening to.
Association of American Medical Colleges
We all know the AAMC, and we know that they often produce good content, including in-depth reports and other content related to medical career options. This infographic is just one example that breaks down the differences between DO vs MD programs. Note that the AAMC represents MD schools, so keep in mind that that’s where they are coming from. This is a worthwhile article nonetheless.
Medical News Today
Medical News Today is not as well known to pre-meds, but we wanted to include this type of resource as well. They discuss DO vs MD in an article reviewed by someone who is herself a DO. If you are curious about what each career entails and the specific roles DOs and MDs work in the medical field, this is a beneficial resource.
Cornell, also an Ivy League, and also home to one of the most successful undergraduate-to-medical admissions rates in the country, is known for having a competitive pre-health track and unbiased advisors that provide some of the best advice to their students. Not only is their Pre-Health Resources page a good place to explore the topic of DO vs MD, but so are articles from the College of Human Ecology Career Exploration Center. One of the articles addresses whether an MD or a DO may be right for you. There are other resources just on this MD vs. DO question, among many others. While these two resources are a good starting point for your own research, the entire Career Exploration Center public website is full of other content that may also be relevant to your journey as a pre-med student. And almost all of that is relevant to pre-meds at other universities.
Wait, Reddit? Well, Reddit can be helpful…if you use it the right way. As you know, /r/premed is populated by past, current, and future pre-med students sharing their stories and advice. Many posts about DO vs MD abound. The challenge is to let Reddit help you (it can help you by being the one place for “raw” peer perspectives, which can be valuable), without falling into two mistakes: (1)listening more to it than to more authoritative answers such as those in the rest of this list, and (2)getting distracted on other less relevant topics. Do consider the views you see on Reddit, but make it one of the last steps on your research, instead of what might be tempting (which is to make it your first step).
Brown University Health Career Advising offers pre-meds an overview of what DO and MD programs entail. But perhaps more importantly, the website serves as a jumping-off point for more data. The advisors provide additional links to resources from AACOM (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine) and the AAMC. This Ivy League recommends that pre-health students consult both of these resources to learn more about the medical school admissions process for DOs and MDs.
The Student Doctor Network
You’re likely already well aware of Student Doctor Network, which provides a wide range of free resources to help students on their educational journey in the form of open forums, which include posts such as this post related to DO vs. MD with answers from community members. SDN can be very valuable, but it can be a time suck if you let it be. Our advice on Reddit above applies here too. Use SDN in a way that contributes to your journey, and don’t let it be a distraction.
Indeed (for salary differences)
Though primarily used as an employment website, their perspective may be helpful from that perspective. This article provides useful information on the DO vs MD wages, job requirements, and responsibilities.
The Yale Office of Career Strategy briefly outlines some of the nuances between OD and MD programs. This briefer view then links to other resources on this and other questions.
BeMo Academic Consulting
BeMo Academic Consulting provides admissions consulting services for a fee. Their blog has helpful articles and one such article covers MD vs DO, specifically the major differences between the two options these students face. The article covers a lot of information (and you can even listen to it while you’re on the way to class or at the gym), including the shadowing and clinical experience needed for both roles.
Medical News Headquarters
Similar to the above, Medical School Headquarters also has a blog. This includes a page on DO vs MD differences and similarities. This post includes a brief history of both types of medicine.
There is a lot of information out there in regards to the DO vs. MD discussion. By knowing where to start, you can make the best decision for your career aspirations that align with your interests. Remember, none of these resources should ever be used on their own, and our hope is that you can use these resources together for a holistic understanding of the difference between DOs and MDs and use it to guide further research into your own pre-med journey and beyond.
These resources are also complemented by the information you can find on Atlantis’s Pre-Health Blog. Filled with stories from our own alums and research, you can gain even more insight into important pre-health topics.
Atlantis does not imply an endorsement from these institutions or websites, but seeks to direct pre-health students to the most helpful information.
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