Allopathic and Osteopathic Medicine
A medical doctor practices medicine and is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and injury. This is accomplished through a detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology, diseases and treatment — the science of medicine — and its applied practice — the art or craft of medicine.
There are two basic types of medical training: allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) and the curricula of both schools are nearly identical. State licensing agencies and most hospitals and residency programs recognize the degrees as equivalent.
Osteopathic medical schools have a holistic perspective on the practice of medicine based on a belief in treating the “whole patient” (mind-body-spirit) and the primacy of the musculoskeletal system in human health and the utility of osteopathic manipulative treatment.
Schooling and Medical Training
Doctors complete a 4-year graduate-level program leading to the award of one of the following, equivalent, degrees:
- Allopathic, Medical Doctor (M.D.)
- Osteopathic, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
During the fourth year of medical school, students choose a medical specialty and apply to a residency program in order to further specialize. These programs are a minimum of three years beyond medical school. Osteopathic medical students and allopathic medical students go through the same residency match process.
Residency match information: https://www.nrmp.org/match-data/main-residency-match-data/
For allopathic medicine, you are encouraged to look at the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR), also known as the MSAR on-line. It contains individual profiles for all US and Canadian medical schools and information about the application process, financing a medical education, and career and specialty options.
For osteopathic medicine, you are encouraged to look at the Osteopathic Medical College Information Book. It is also available for free on the AACOM website.
National Acceptance Rates for Allopathic Medical School 42%
National Acceptance Rates for Osteopathic Medical School 40%
Can International Students Attend Medical School in the USA?
The Harsh Realities:
Acceptance Rates: The national data is fairly grim for international students wishing to attend a US medical school even if they have graduated from a US college or university. In 2010, of the 42,742 applicants,18,665 (44%) were accepted and matriculated. However, only 171 of these 18,665 were non-residents or non-citizens. Thus, less than one half of one percent (.004) of the international students who applied to medical school were accepted and enrolled.
Financing Medical Education: Even when an international student is accepted they face the daunting task of financing the cost of medical school. Non-US residents/citizens are not eligible for federal or state loan programs, which are used by most US medical students to finance medical school. To be able to get a loan from a US bank or other non-government program, the international student generally must have a co-signer who is a US resident and has assets sufficient to cover the loans if the student should default on the loan. Before most US medical schools will accept an international student, they will try to ensure that the student has the ability to pay for all four years of medical school. This often means that the student will need to have the funds for all four years of medical school placed in an escrow account in the US. Full scholarships for international students at most US medical schools are extremely rare.
Residency Programs: International students who attend osteopathic medical schools must find a residency program (hospital) that will sponsor a work visa for them. While some large MD programs have that built into their system as they partner with offshore schools and have hospitals who take them for residency programs. Regardless, this is something international students must consider when approaching a career in medicine.
“What Options Are There?”
Even though becoming a medical doctor through the US system is challenging and the outcomes are grim, students can consider pursuing graduate studies (in the US) in fields such as bio-medical and neuroscience research, pharmacology, as well as many other areas in the physical sciences. Fields related to health that are good options for international students include; Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Graduate School for Public Health or Research.
Ways to Practice Medicine in the US
If your goal is to practice medicine in the US, please see these links to information about options for students who obtain a medical degree outside the US but want to practice in the US
- Practicing Medicine in the USA
- Practicing Physicians Assistant in the USA
- Alternate Pathways for Foreign Medical Graduates
- Finding a Residency in the USA
- Practicing Family Medicine in the USA
Link to international health programs: