I am often asked what school I attend when running errands or meeting new people. I am happy that I get to say I go to an Osteopathic medical school! There are many types of medical schools out there including MD, Caribbean, European, and DO medical schools. For me, my DO school does a great job of preparing students for a medical career. What is so great about my DO school? Find out below:
1. Primary Care is a Main Focus
When I shadowed doctors before medical school, I began to understand which specialties interested me the most. I quickly realized primary care specialties like Family Medicine and subspecialties such as Geriatrics were intriguing. Soon after, I learned about D.O. doctors from three of my mentors who are Osteopathic physicians. One of the Family Medicine physicians I shadowed used manipulation techniques everyday and I saw Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment’s positive outcomes firsthand. The Osteopathic “mind, body, and spirit” approach to medicine aligned with my view of medical practice and I began to apply to D.O. medical schools. Research also shows that “more than 56% of DOs are primary care physicians. This includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.” Even if Osteopathic medical school students do not enter a primary care specialty, many students in my class will practice in rural, underserved areas. I encourage everyone interested in primary care, preventative medicine, and physical manipulation to explore the Osteopathic profession.
2. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment
One of the most distinguishable differences between a MD granting medical school and DO granting medical school is the use of OMM and OMT training at Osteopathic schools. Every week, D.O. students at my school have lectures concerning Osteopathic principles. The four main principles are:
1. The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
2. The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
3. Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
4. Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
In our Osteopathic classes we learn and then practice hands-on manipulative treatments using OMM tables like the image above. We get the unique opportunity to interact with our classmates and practice on each other to learn. Also, the techniques we learn are easy to use on our family members and friends to demonstrate our skills during holidays and time off! So far, I have been taught how to diagnose cervical, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae and correct asymmetries, muscles dysfunctions, and other body mechanics. I am most appreciative of the integrative curriculum that revolves around touch, prevention, and knowledge of the musculoskeletal system.
3. Anatomy Lab
To my knowledge, almost every medical school has an anatomy lab but our anatomy lab has many great features that I have not seen in every school. Most importantly, there are only about 4 to 5 students per lab group which gives everyone the opportunity to learn, cut, and interact during each Anatomy Lab Session. The lab is well taken care of by the staff, and there are computers, books, models, cutting equipment, and large flat-screen TVs to help everyone see the demonstrations. Also, we have a mock lab exam before we are tested to ensure information is repeated and long-term learning is encouraged. Our Osteopathic class lectures correspond with our anatomy classes, and as we learned about the spine, we simultaneously are taught how to treat different segments. One of the most impressive aspects of our anatomy experience is the cadaver ceremony held annually for the families. As a class, we raised money for this ceremony to honor the loved ones and people who graciously donated their bodies for science and our learning. I believe this ceremony further exemplifies the impact of our anatomy class and reminds us of the sacrifices made by others for us to pursue medicine.
4. Preventive Medicine is Highlighted
Because one of the Osteopathic Principles is “The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit,” preventive care is emphasized in our coursework. I have always had an interest in preventive medicine as many preventable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are common in my family and neighborhood. At my school, we have lecture objectives based upon science and prevention. For example, last week we had a lecture named “Nutritional Needs After a Stroke” that detailed the specific needs of stroke and Parkinson’s patients. The treatment information provided in this lecture was mostly preventive and demonstrated the importance of preventive training often seen in Osteopathic teachings. Likewise, “whole body medicine” is a central theme at my school – focusing on preventative measures such as smoking cessation, healthy diet, and exercise.
Overall, Match Day sites, COMLEX scores, and other stats make our school great but these four aspects are some of the main reasons “I Love my D.O. School.” Fewer than 140 students get to enroll here every year and the points on this list are just some of the highlights we experience during the first two years of Osteopathic medical school.
Ashley R. Peterson is a medical student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia Campus. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her blog, “Daily Medicine Blog” revolves around medicine, travel, and daily life at www.dailymedicine.co.