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In this episode, we tackle a question about shadowing experiences and whether it matters that you’re shadowing a DO (osteopathic) when interested in going to an MD (allopathic) school. We also take a step further and talk about how most DO schools stress the importance of shadowing a DO when applying to a DO school.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
OldPreMeds Question of the Week
As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum:
Our poster, Matt, said that every DO school requires that you shadow a DO. How do allopathic schools view shadowing a DO versus an MD? Matt is applying to both osteopathic and allopathic schools.
Let’s talk about shadowing DOs and how different types of medical schools look at it.
[Related episode: MD vs DO: What Are the Differences (and Similarities)?]
Medical Schools Want “Healthcare Experience”
The healthcare experience you get as a premed can come in many different forms:
- Volunteering in clinical or hospital settings
- Employment in clinical jobs like nurse, PA, EMT, CNA, MA, or phlebotomist
- Community/social service is close to that
Shadowing DOs vs MDs: Does It Matter Which One?
An MD or DO is just your degree from school. Whether you have an MD or DO is essentially meaningless in the practice of medicine. What kind of residency you did makes a much bigger difference, as that determines your specialty, which impacts your daily practice.
[Related episode: Should We Even Have a DO Degree?]Whether you have an MD or DO is essentially meaningless in the practice of medicine.Click To Tweet
If you’re applying to an MD school and shadowing a family practice doctor who is a DO, that’s fine. Have the doctor just write a letter of recommendation as a family practice doc. DO is in his title, but medical schools don’t really care or think of it as less worthy than shadowing an MD.
Some Points to Consider About Shadowing DOs:
Shadowing is just observing. In itself, it’s not as valuable to medical schools as some of the other healthcare experiences can be. Actively working with patients yourself is more valuable than just observing as a doctor’s shadow.
Letters from doctors you shadowed for just one day are not really important, as you don’t usually have an in-depth relationship. Most schools are not that impressed by a shadowing letter as being all that valuable unless there is a closer relationship and you’ve worked with each other substantially.
The College Information Book for most schools would say that a letter of recommendation from a DO is strongly recommended. Take this requirement seriously if they say so. DO schools care that you understand the DO philosophy and have shadowed a DO.DO schools care that you understand the DO philosophy and have shadowed a DO.Click To Tweet
Major Takeaways About Shadowing DOs
Go find a physician to shadow who’s work is going to interest you. Spend quality time with her, and get a good letter of recommendation after spending that quality time. The letters after their name don’t matter. Doctors are doctors.
The only difference is that when you’re applying to DO school, it’s recommended that you shadow a DO so you can observe their OM (Osteopathic Manipulative) medicine or therapy.In the end, the specific letters after your name don't matter. Doctors are doctors.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: 6 Myths of Osteopathic Medical School.
- Related episode: Let’s Talk About DOs and What You Need to Know.
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” for 10% off Next Step full-length practice tests or “MSHQTOC” for $50 off MCAT tutoring or the Next Step MCAT Course at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!