MSHQ 126 : #AskMSHQ – Should I turn down a DO Acceptance?

Session 126

In this episode, Ryan is going to tackle a question that came in on Twitter, which is something he wants you to do. Go on Twitter. Ask him a question. Use #askmshq and we will be pulling out your questions in order for us to create a second podcast, all about questions from you.

This question came out as a private message. Here's the scenario:

He got an acceptance to a DO school this year. MCAT with a 31 and GPA of 3.7 – both great scores. He didn't apply to any MD schools but thinking of doing that and taking a year off. Any thoughts?

What would you do? Think about it. You already have an acceptance to medical school but you wait a year to apply again…

Here’s Ryan’s take on this:

We've talked about what schools you should apply to in the past. If you're going down your list of medical schools and you're creating this list that you want to apply to, ask yourself:

If you got an acceptance from a school, are you going to be happy or not?

When you check your mail and you have an acceptance to a school that's in your list, but you're unhappy or disappointed, do yourself a favor and DON’T apply there. Do the school a favor and DON’T apply there. Do the other students applying to that school a favor and DON’T apply there.

  • Apply to a school that if you got an acceptance, you would gladly jump at going.
  • Be sure that where you are applying, you need to be asking yourself if this is what you really want?

MD vs. DO

Don't ever turn down your only acceptance to medical school because it's  an osteopathic school to try again next year to apply to an allopathic school.

What happens when you turn them down?

  • That school you're applying to is going to question your determination and commitment to medical school.
  • You may never get another chance. You can't burn bridges considering that it's a tight-knit community.
  • A DO vs. MD is almost a non-existent issue past medical school (which many premeds make an issue of this) It really doesn't matter.

It's not true that being a DO is less than being an MD. Not true at all!

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

Apply to the medical schools that:

  • Fit the vocation you want to be in
  • Fit to your philosophy of education
  • Fit the research you may be interested in
  • Fit the family you want to be near

Don't look at the MD or DO and differentiate these two.

Links and Other Resources



Dr. Ryan Gray: The Premed Years, session number 126.

Hello and welcome back to the Medical School Headquarters Podcast; where we believe that collaboration, not competition, is key to your premed success. I am your host, Dr. Ryan Gray, and in this podcast we share with you stories, encouragement and information that you need to know to help guide you on your path to becoming a physician.

If you're in the middle of studying for that new dreaded MCAT 2015, go to and download our thirty plus page report, all about helping you maximize your time studying for that MCAT. Again,

If you haven't checked out Premed Life Magazine, go check them out at They're our partner magazine, our sister magazine, whatever you want to call them. Awesome resource for you, the premed, on your journey to medical school.

A Question from Twitter

Today I'm going to tackle a question that came in on Twitter, and this is something that I want you to do. Go on Twitter and ask me a question. Use the #AskMSHQ, obviously Medical School Headquarters. #AskMSHQ. And I'm going to have a little tool that's looking for that hashtag and is going to pull those questions into a special file for me so that I can go down and create these podcasts and it might be separate from this specific Medical School Headquarters Podcast, and we'll create this possibly second podcast all about questions from you. I know you have them, just ask. Go to, make an account if you don't have one, and send a tweet with the #AskMSHQ.

This question came in- and I won't say the name because I didn't know I was going to do this. But this question came in as a private message from somebody. And he is saying that they've been accepted to a DO school this year. MCAT with a 31, and a GPA of 3.7, which are both great scores. And they said they didn't apply to any MD schools; thinking of doing that, and taking a year off. Any thoughts?

So basically this person is asking, ‘I got an acceptance to a DO school, to medical school, but I'm thinking I want to go to a ‘MD school,' I'm thinking about turning down this acceptance, waiting a year and reapplying.' Now think about that. For those of you on your journey right now, close your eyes unless you're driving, open them again. That was scary, wasn't it? Open your eyes, or close them. And think about having that acceptance letter in your hand, having an acceptance to medical school in your hand, what you've been killing yourself over for the last one year, two years, three years, four years; whatever it has been. Having that acceptance in your hand and going, ‘You know what? I think I'm going to say no, wait a year, and try again and enter the abyss that is the AMCAS application process.' Think about that. An acceptance to medical school waiting a year to apply again.

Which Schools to Apply To

We've talked about how to choose what schools you should apply to in the past, and we'll rehash that a little bit here, I'll rehash that a little bit here. If you're going down your list of medical schools, and you're creating this list that you want to apply to, you have to ask yourself as you're narrowing down your list. When you check your mail, or check your email, however it comes, and you have an acceptance to that school that you're adding to your list or not removing from your list in another way. If you got an acceptance to that medical school, whether it's a DO school or an MD school, and you're unhappy- in your mind you go, ‘Ugh, it's just XYZ school.' If you are disappointed, don't apply there. Do yourself a favor and don't apply there. Do the school a favor and don't apply there. Do everybody else, every other student that's applying to that school- do them a favor and don't apply there. Apply to a school that if you got an acceptance, you would gladly jump at going. You need to be sure in your mind that where you are applying, what part of the country it's in, if it's in this country, what the weather is like, is it near an ocean, is it in the middle of the country, do you have friends going there, are you close to family; all of these questions you need to be asking yourself – is this really what I want?

I don't care if the school has the same averages that match your scores, because in the end that doesn't matter, those are averages. Over 100 students or 200 students, whatever the size of that class is. Those are 200 grades that are squished down into one average. That average really doesn't tell you much, because there are people way below that, and there are going to be people way above that. And just because you are at that average, doesn't mean anything. So think about that. If you got an acceptance from this school, are you going to be happy, or are you not?

DO Schools Versus MD Schools

Now I want to take a second to talk about this whole DO, MD thing again, and some more. I tweeted it out yesterday after getting this message from this person, and my tweet said, ‘Don't ever turn down your only acceptance to med school because it's an osteopathic school, to try again next year.' Obviously next year, to an allopathic school. And a lot of people responded to that. This one- Medsko, he was actually on the podcast before, he said, ‘True story, I know someone who went further and alienated the DO program,' meaning they probably rejected DO program, ‘they have since been exiled from MD and DO.' So somebody that had an acceptance and said, ‘You know what? I don't want your DO acceptance, I want to be an MD,' and now they kind of screwed themselves out of both. Because you're going to get an acceptance, and the next year when you're applying you go, ‘Yeah, I got an acceptance but I decided to turn it down.' Now that school that you're applying to is going to question your determination, your commitment to medical school. Did you get cold feet and now you're just using the DO, MD thing as an excuse? Or what?

The KP Family Medicine- Kaiser Permanente San Diego Family Medicine Residency Twitter account tweeted out, ‘Truth, you may never get another chance, and don't burn bridges. It's a tight-knit community.' So a couple people responded to my tweet that I sent out about this.

You need to understand that a DO versus an MD is almost- almost a non-existent issue past medical school. All premeds like to make an issue of this, but once you're in medical school and past medical school, it is almost a non-issue; and I'll talk about why there are still some issues. But I think as a premed, we are Type A students for the most part, and you are very competitive. And in your mind, because you're reading these websites that say your grades aren't good enough to get into an MD school, you might as well go DO; this is drilled into your head from an early point, that going to an osteopathic school is lesser than going to an MD school and therefore being a DO is less than being an MD. But it's just not true. On the flipside, I practice with DOs, I practice with MDs; nobody cares. And I've talked about it before, I have patients come to me and they want me to be a DO because they like the osteopathic manipulation, and they're disappointed when I'm ‘just' and MD.

So get that out of your minds. Apply to the medical schools that fit your location that you want to be in, that fit your philosophy, the education, that fit research that you may be interested in, that fit your family that you want to be near, or away from. Whatever it may be, don't look at the DO, don't look at the MD, and differentiate those two. Obviously if you have philosophies that fit with a DO philosophy, and don't get me started on DOs treat holistically and MDs don't, because that's a whole other issue there too. But if you feel like that manipulation and that connection with a patient with manipulation is something you want to learn and be able to practice, and you want to be a DO because of that, great. Apply to DO schools. You can learn that as an MD, you can go to osteopathic manipulation training as an MD and do manipulation. So again, that doesn't really separate it either.

So in the end, go to whatever school matches everything else, and don't worry about the DO, don't worry about the MD.

Small Caveat

Now, onto the small caveat. I said it's almost negligible. There will still be some bias out there, unfortunately in residencies, some of the more competitive ones. I have heard stories of one DO that I used to work with who obviously was in an osteopathic medical school, and went to an away elective rotation for orthopedic surgery. And was basically told, ‘We don't take DOs in this program.' And you know what? Great. I don't want to come here if you're going to have that attitude anyway. There's this stigma, unfortunately, in some places that again, DO is less than MD. And many, many years ago, maybe that was the case. But nowadays, it's statistically harder to get into a DO school than it is an MD school. And the admissions philosophies between an osteopathic school and a medical school are different. And so you can't compare GPAs and MCATs and say one is better than another, you just can't. And so if you're a DO and medical school is a DO, and you're getting a vibe from a residency program that they don't want you because you're a DO, perfect. Walk away. You don't want them anyway.

Final Thoughts

Alright, that's all I've got. I hope that helped, I hope that in your mind it put some rest- put you at ease with the fact that it really, really, really doesn't matter.

Alright., tell me your thoughts on this. Go continue this conversation, again John went on iTunes and said, ‘This podcast has so many shows that have stuck and informed me about the workings of medical school, thank you.' No, thank you John. We have Brian, a nontraditional saying, ‘amazing info for someone looking at post-bacc programs in their late twenties.' Thank you for that Brian. And Furby [Inaudible 00:13:04], ‘As a humanities undergraduate senior who wishes to pursue a career in the medical field
I find this podcast an invaluable tool. 100% all around love it.' They even say we're well-spoken and entertaining. That's awesome. That's an unpaid review for us. where you can leave us a much, much appreciated rating and review. Again we are all about collaboration here, and when you leave us a rating and review that helps other premed students find us in iTunes. Alright, I hope you enjoyed everything that we talked about today, and as always I hope you join me, or us, next time here at the Medical School Headquarters.

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  • J

    So great! I was having some doubts about my drive to pursue an osteopathic degree, but this helped me see that it’s more about the school itself and how it fits you. I’m very excited to start at my osteopathic med school this summer!