Why Aren’t There a lot of Osteopathic Physicians?

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Why Aren't There a lot of Osteopathic Physicians?

Session 62

There are a lot more MD medical schools than there are DO schools. What accounts for the difference in numbers, and how does that affect you?

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[00:33] Ratio of MD to DO Physicians

It scares students to find out that there are not too many DO physicians to shadow.

First, look at the history of osteopathic medicine, when it started, how big the class sizes are, and how many osteopathic medical schools there are. Compare that with the MD medical schools which have historically been around the longest.

'There are a lot more MD medical schools than there are DO medical schools.'Click To Tweet

Understand that there are more allopathic (MD) medical schools than there are osteopathic (DO) medical schools. The ratio is about 3:1.

There are about 3 seats for every one seat in the osteopathic school. So for every three people graduating from MD school, there’s one person graduating from DO school. That means that 33% of the physician workforce should be osteopathic physicians.

But that’s not the case. When you look at the total number of physicians, there are over a million total physicians in the U.S. It’s almost a 10:1 ratio.

[02:40] Let’s Look at the History

We are now at a 3:1 MD-DO ratio as far as graduates. Historically, that hasn’t been the case. And there are now more DO schools opening, as well as MD schools opening.

'Historically, MD schools have outpaced DO graduates for a long time.'Click To Tweet

Even when you look at our current snapshot of graduates where the ratio is 3:1 (MD to DO), it’s still won’t be 3:1 because we have foreign medical graduates who come into the U.S. to practice medicine. There are physicians coming from Canada and international medical schools – in the UK, Australia, and the Caribbean.

That being said, you won’t get a strict 3:1 number. The U.S. is the only country where we have DO medical schools. 

This is not to say that we need more MDs than DOs. It’s just the way the numbers have always worked.

[04:45] Apply to Both MD and DO schools.

If you’re looking at osteopathic medical schools, in the first place, you should be looking at both MD and DO medical schools, don’t worry about seeing not many DOs.

There are not too many DOs but the number is growing every year. The total number of seats available is about 7,500 for 2019 versus 22,000 for MD medical schools.

'Apply to DO schools. Apply to MD schools. The only real issue is it gets harder to find DOs to shadow.'Click To Tweet

[05:58] How to Shadow DOs

Call your state osteopathic medical society. Tell them about your interest in shadowing a DO. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. They usually have a directory of osteopathic physicians in their state and they can usually help you connect with them.


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