It was probably in high school when I decided that I wanted to become a doctor and there I was, off to pursue a career in medicine. From then on, I looked forward to the day that I would see the letters MD following my name. Becoming a Doctor of Medicine was all I ever wanted to do – or so I thought. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I began to realize that there were actually two types of doctors that practice medicine. And there I was, left questioning the only decision I was ever so sure of. Could there be something else out there for me? Fast-forward two years later, and I find myself thinking about every great thing I felt about becoming a Doctor of Medicine, but only this time it was for a Doctor of Osteopathic. The way I saw it, it was virtually the same as an MD degree but for me, the DO degree just offered me something more. After looking at both options and considering the differences between the two (or lack thereof), here are the top four reasons why I made the decision to pursue a DO degree over an MD:

  1. Shadowing Experiences
    Like many premeds, as an undergrad I had the opportunity to shadow many physicians who were both MDs as well as DOs. This experience was probably the best thing I could have ever done and is probably the #1 reason for my decision to pursue osteopathic medicine. Having the opportunity to see and experience first hand what each doctor does in each setting allowed me to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. For any student pursuing medicine, I would advise getting a taste of each – MD and DO – so you can say with confidence that you know whichever you choose in the end was truly for you. Besides, how can you say something is not for you if you’ve never even tried it?
  2. Personal Beliefs
    I can honestly say that I’ve never been one who is big on treating any illness or injury I’ve had with medications or any other type of “traditional” method. For me, understanding the bigger picture of my condition was most  important and moving forward with preventative measure has always been “my thing.” As such, my affinity toward osteopathic medicine was a natural one. Even though I knew that I would most likely have to explain my decision to people who “just don’t get it,” I was more than enough confident with my decision to move forward.
  3. Clinical Knowledge Lover
    An important component of osteopathic medicine is the evidence-based aspect of practicing. I have always had a passion for biomedical research and had the opportunity as an undergrad to participate in a summer research program in New York City. Being able to pursue medicine in a way that would nurture my clinical side, as well as my research side had osteopathic written all over it. While some MD programs may present some of the same teaching philosophies when it comes to integrating the clinical aspect of medicine, it seemed to me that DO was actually rooted in that approach – I liked the idea of this a lot.
  4. Additional Things to Learn
    I have to admit, I love to learn about medicine. Only later on in my academic career did I realize that not only would I learn about things my MD counterparts were learning about, but I would learn even more. In osteopathic medicine, there are things that we learn – additional types of treatment – that MDs are not exposed to. Personally, I like to have more information than less.

This article was first published in the July/August 2013 issue of PreMedLife magazine.