Allopathic medical schools award the M.D. degree after four years of study, while osteopathic medical schools award the D.O. degree. Although the medical training programs are very similar for each, and graduates often complete residencies side-by- side, they have two very different approaches. In 2020, allopathic and osteopathic programs will merge to utilize the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's (ACGME) National Residency Match Program.
Physicians with an M.D. practice allopathic medicine, considered to be the classical form of medicine, which focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. D.O. physicians practice osteopathic medicine which is centered around a more holistic view of medicine in which the focus is on seeing the patient as a “whole person” to reach a diagnosis, rather than treating the symptoms alone. Osteopathic medical schools also require students to train in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), which is used to describe non-invasive and medication free manual force or pressure techniques that address structural and functional issues of the body.
Depending on your interests, dual degree programs are also great options. While dual degrees typically take longer to complete, such as earning a M.D./Ph.D. or D.O./Ph.D., note that it will take less time than completing each degree separately.