Is There Finally a D.O. Equivalent to the MSAR?
Kaitlyn Rizzo is a second year medical student at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is originally from Northeast Ohio and attended the University of Dayton for a B.S. in Exercise Physiology. Kaitlyn attended a summer 2017 Fellowship in Lisbon, Portugal and hopes to return there one day.
Balancing the MD/DO Scales
With 35 colleges of osteopathic medicine in the U.S., 56 teaching locations, 33 states with osteopathic medical schools, and 30,000 students training to become osteopathic physicians, the letters DO are as important as ever.
You may have heard that our nation faces a physician shortage, and with osteopathic medicine representing a rapidly growing field with a growth rate of about 5% per year, premedical students could always use another resource to utilize when applying to osteopathic medical schools.
Students pursuing the MD track have long been relying on the MSAR, short for “Medical School Admissions Requirements,” to help them better understand the medical school admissions process... but it is restricted to covering only MD programs. The MSAR is a complete collection of three years worth of statistics and information for any given MD and LCME-granting institution in the United States and Canada.
It seems that, with all of that extremely insightful information in one place, it is only right that future DO candidates have a counterpart to help them in their admissions process as well. Perhaps by popular demand, or rather necessity, Choose DO has emerged to do just that.
*Cue a collective round of applause from the entire osteopathic medical community.*
A resource that parallels the MSAR in being a searchable medical school database for any DO school in the country, Choose DO aims to help you find the osteopathic medical program that is best suited for you. This is especially important when realizing that osteopathic physicians can “choose any specialty, prescribe drugs, perform surgeries, and practice medicine anywhere in the United States,” as stated on the Choose DO site.
That means that DO students have a LOT of options to choose from when it comes to what to practice, where to practice, and, most importantly, where to START.
What is Choose DO?
According to the website, “Choose DO is an effort by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), a national organization representing osteopathic medical education in the United States.” It was launched earlier this year and works to promote osteopathic medical education via inspiring students, connecting them with resources, and emphasizing the DO philosophies. Their tagline is “A New Generation of Doctors”, and this brand is sure working hard to increase the number of DO physicians in the US in the near future.
What does Choose DO offer?
1. Background information on osteopathic medicine
Did you know that osteopathic medical philosophy was developed back in 1874 by a man named A.T. Still? This section of the website includes a brief description of osteopathic medicine, the history of it, and fast facts about the field. If you are new to the idea of osteopathic medicine or are attending a DO school right now, there is something new to be learned in these sections of the website. As a DO student, it is incredibly important to understand the history behind the field and how it has come to be so crucial in healthcare today.
In addition, the information on these pages can help to minimize the stigma around DO students. Many of us have heard the false rumors that premedical students only choose DO schools if they cannot get accepted into MD schools or the one about how DO graduates can do less than in practice than MD graduates. If you’ve chosen osteopathic medicine as your preferred medical discipline, you already know these things aren’t true. Now you can utilize this resource to help educate the portion of the premedical world that doesn’t.
[ALSO READ]: MD vs. DO: Which is Right For You?
2. How to prepare for medical school
The Choose DO Explorer
This part of the website includes a wide variety of information for premedical students including a downloadable student guide, Choose DO Explorer, premed roadmap, information on shadowing DOs, post baccalaureate programs, and more. The information in this section is expansive and tailored to anything you may need to know when considering osteopathic medical school.
The Choose DO Explorer is the tool that is most similar to the MSAR. You can easily register to view the Choose DO Explorer by providing your email, name, state, and year you plan on starting medical school. It allows you to explore all of the osteopathic medical schools in the U.S. by providing all sorts of helpful information including application deadlines, tuition rates, dual degree offerings, and average GPA. It even allows you to view the school setting (suburban, urban, and rural) and whether it is for profit or not for profit.
It is extremely important to note that, unlike the MSAR, it’s free. The MSAR costs $28 for a one year subscription. Thank you AACOM and Choose DO!
The Student Guide
The student guide provides some of the most important information from the website, in addition to other resources premedical students will find helpful when applying to DO schools. The 2019 guide is 76 pages full of a letter from the AACOM President, an overview of the osteopathic medical field, information about medical education and accreditation, graduate medical education facts, and more. It is a more in-depth version of what you will find on the other pages of the Choose DO website all in one document, along with some fun pictures of current medical students, maps regarding admissions offices, figures with breakdowns of each year of medical school, and more. If you do not want to have to navigate through various pages of the Choose DO website, start with this student guide where everything is condensed into a large document you can save to your computer.
It is downloadable directly from the website, but you can request a physical copy by sending a quick email as well.
The Road Map
The road map is a timeline to help direct you with appropriate goals and activities for each year, beginning with pre-college and ending with post-college. For example, in year one of college, you will want to do things like “attend recruitment events and visit medical school campuses.” I very quickly found myself wishing that this roadmap was available to me when I was an undergraduate student!
As mentioned earlier, there are even more pages to visit under this section of the website with even more helpful information for everyone, but do not stop here!
“I very quickly found myself wishing that this roadmap was available to me when I was an undergraduate student!”
3. Medical school information
Did you know you can become an osteopathic physician while also becoming master of science in disaster and emergency management? This program is offered at NSU-KPCOM, which you (nor I) would have known unless I otherwise ended up on their website. This medical school information section is extensive. When you hover over the “Medical Schools” tab, the drop down menu offers information about U.S. colleges of osteopathic medicine, dual degree programs, financial aid, scholarships, international students, diversity, accreditation, graduate medical education (GME), and board examinations/licensure (whew!). Basically any information about DO schools you may be applying to can be found here.
4. Helpful tips on how to apply to DO school
Ever wondered when the requirements and deadlines are for DO schools? Do you qualify for fee assistance programs to help with the expensive costs of applications? Now you can find all of this information on a single website, in addition to information regarding the application fee waiver, medical school interviews, and AACOMAS which is the application website for DO schools. There is even a Quick Start Guide linked from the AACOMAS website that directs you to helpful hints and FAQs.
5. Upcoming events
Did you know there is an online fair specifically designed for students interested in DO schools? (You mean like an activities fair I don’t have to leave my dorm for?!)
Would you like to learn about the profession, life as a medical student, and medical schools you may want to consider? Utilize the Upcoming Events tab of the website to find out about events like the Choose DO Medical School Online Fair.
There is also a page for medical school recruiting events to learn even more about osteopathic medical schools that interest you. These include open houses, online chats, campus tours, and more. You might actually have to leave your dorm for one of these events, but it will be worth it.
Want to read about healthcare reform, stories, and other topics in the osteopathic medical field? This blog is much more tailored to DO students than the typical premedical blog, so check out this page if this sounds like it is for you. There are not too many articles available at this point in time, but keep checking back for the newest blogs about DO schools, students, and experiences in the future.
7. …And more!
In addition to providing all of this wonderful information mentioned above, there are still more aspects to this website that I have not specifically talked about. I’ll wrap up here and let you navigate your own way through the site.
Since it is an effort by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, it is accurate, helpful, and worth your time! In addition, you can submit questions via email at any time, or speak on the phone Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM Eastern Standard Time regarding anything on this website. In the meantime, you can even follow Choose DO on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or request more information about the DO field of medicine.
Choose DO is a great place to start exploring the world of osteopathic medicine, whether you are just finishing high school or almost ready to apply for DO school. The sooner the better, of course, but there is something for everyone on this website. Whether you simply utilize the Choose DO Explorer to guide you in finding schools to apply to or follow the roadmap to a tee, Choose DO has something for everyone. Best of luck!
Originally from Northeast Ohio, Kaitlyn attended the University of Dayton for a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and is now an OMS2 at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. Kaitlyn attended a summer 2017 Fellowship in Lisbon, Portugal and continued to work closely with Atlantis afterwards as one of the Alumni Ambassadors.