Tips from a DO Student at Rowan

Hi Terps! Today, we have a special guest, June Solow, who is currently studying at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM). She majored in Public Health Science at the University of Maryland. Inspired by the unique treatment approach that involves holistic care and manipulative therapy, she decided to pursue a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. As an undergraduate student, she felt that there was less guidance for students applying to DO schools exclusively. I hope that her advice, tips, and insight into her application process help fellow students who are applying to osteopathic medical schools. 

Why DO over MD?

During her experience as a yoga instructor, she became interested in hands-on manipulative medicine. She also wanted to be able to spend more time with patients through primary care. Although she was considering applying to both DO and MD schools, she ultimately decided to apply to DO schools exclusively as she resonated with the values of hands-on medicine. She also believed that her overall application would have a better chance of being accepted into DO schools more than MD schools. Financial responsibility also drove her to this decision. She did not have to book flights to do interviews or spend a huge sum of money on MD school applications. Being a New Jersey resident also gave her an in-state tuition advantage when applying to RowanSOM. She noted that although DO applications require less essays, it is important to tailor them to convey the values of holistic care and manipulative medicine, which is the core of osteopathic medicine. 

How did you gain experiences in the medical field as an undergraduate?

June shared that it was difficult to find shadowing opportunities due to a relatively small number of osteopathic physicians in the area. However, some schools require a letter of recommendation from an osteopathic physician, so having clinical experiences from a DO is an important component of the application. She suggested that if there are no opportunities to shadow a DO, then working with a MD or a physical therapist who practices pain management and rehabilitation may be an alternative way to gain experience. 

In her undergraduate career, June was also involved with Public Health Beyond Borders. This experience allowed her to expand her knowledge in public health preventative care. Her work with the organization focused on integrative medicine, and she researched how to improve lives from other aspects of life besides physical health such as social and financial health. 

Is the application process for DO schools different from that of MD?

Majority of the application process remains the same. There still will be both primaries and secondaries. The main difference is that there is another portal to submit and pay for applications. 

What do admissions look for during the interview?

The interview process will mostly consist of behavioral questions. The admissions want to assess the applicant’s understanding and approach to health care and external factors that can affect patients’ health. They will also determine whether the applicants are committed to reducing or achieving equities among patients. 

How is the DO curriculum structured?

The first two years of medical school will be spent on pre-clinical lectures and the later two will be on clinical rotations. During the first two years, students will have additional 200+ hours to complete osteopathic manipulation medicine labs, which is not required for MD schools. Due to this difference, DO students lose time to learn embryology. Therefore, students who are taking both MD and DO board exams would have to learn the subject in their own time. The two years of clinical rotation will also require additional osteopathic manipulation medicine rotation that focuses on pain management. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes intense and comprehensive physical examinations; having a strong foundational knowledge of anatomy and interconnectedness of the human body is a crucial component of being a DO.

How are DOs residency programs?

About three years ago, the MD and DO residency programs joined. DOs can apply to MD residency programs, but MDs cannot apply to DO residency programs if the programs are focused on osteopathic manipulation medicine. June plans to take both USMLE and COMLEX exams to have as many opportunities as possible for her residency program selection.

How did you spend your gap year?

While many students spend their gap years gaining more clinical experience, completing a post baccalaureate program, or earning a master’s degree, June decided to spend it differently. She moved back with her parents in New Jersey and gained experiences in other areas by working at a retail store, teaching yoga, and spending time with family. She knew that once she started her medical career, it would be more difficult to have a part time job, teach yoga in the early mornings and evenings, and live by a more relaxed and liberal schedule.

Do you have one advice to share with students?

“Don’t be too disappointed over one grade or one test because they are worth so little in the end. Take each assignment and exam one at a time!”

I hope June’s insightful experiences about her DO application process will be a valuable resource to fellow DO applicants! Thank you for joining us for another Tuesdays with Gus post and see you again next week!

With care,

Gus  🐾