Allopathic/Osteopathic Physician



Timeline for Application/ Admission to Medical School 


Compare/ Contrast M.D. and D.O.

Overview of Medical School

Where Slugs are going to Medical School

Important Websites

Printable PDF

Overview of Profession:

(source: )

  1. Overview
    • Physicians examine patients, obtain medical histories, and order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients about illness, injuries, health conditions, and preventive healthcare (diet/fitness, smoking cessation, etc.). 
    • They can also conduct medical research, teach, and run medical centers. People with medical education are in demand in many areas. Physicians work in one or more specialties. 
  2. Working Conditions:
    • Many physicians—primarily general and family practitioners, general internists, pediatricians, OB/GYNs, and psychiatrists—work in small private offices or clinics, often assisted by a small staff of nurses and other administrative personnel. Increasingly, physicians are practicing in groups or healthcare organizations that provide backup coverage and allow for more time off. 
    • Physicians in a group practice or healthcare organization often work as part of a team that coordinates care for a number of patients; they are less independent than the solo practitioners of the past. 
    • Surgeons and anesthesiologists usually work in well-lighted, sterile environments while performing surgery and often stand for long periods. Most work in hospitals or in surgical outpatient centers. 
    • Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular hours. In 2008, 43% of all physicians and surgeons worked 50 or more hours a week. Nine percent of all physicians and surgeons worked part-time. Physicians and surgeons travel between office and hospital to care for their patients. While on call, a physician will deal with many patients' concerns over the phone and make emergency visits to hospitals or nursing homes.
  3. Earnings:
    • Earnings of physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation. According to the 2015 Physician Compensation Report, the average primary care doctor made $195,000 and the average specialist made $284,000. However, those averages hide quite a bit of variability based on different factors. 
    • Self-employed physicians—those who own or are part owners of their medical practice—generally have higher median incomes than salaried physicians. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, geographic region, hours worked, skill, personality, and professional reputation. Self-employed physicians and surgeons must provide for their own health insurance and retirement. 
  4. Job Outlook:
    • Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 22% from 2008-2018. This is partly because new machines and tools are letting doctors treat more health problems. It is also partly because the population is growing and getting older, so they will need more health care. 
    • Job opportunities for doctors are expected to be good, especially in rural and low-income areas. Some of these areas do not have enough doctors. 
  5. Employment:
    • They held about 661,400 jobs in 2008; approximately 12% were self-employed. About 53% of wage–and-salary physicians and surgeons worked in offices of physicians, and 19 percent were employed by hospitals. Others practiced in Federal, State, and local governments, educational services, and outpatient care centers.
    • Employment of physicians and surgeons is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth is projected due to increased demand for healthcare services by the growing and aging population.

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To apply to medical school you can be ANY MAJOR (Art, Biology, Literature, Math, etc.), however you must complete the pre-requisite coursework in Chemistry, Biology, Math and Physics in order to apply.  

The table at the bottom shows the courses that are most commonly completed by UC Santa Cruz Students to fulfill medical school pre-requisites.  The Career Center recommends that students complete the courses sequenced listed in this table.

NOTE: The medical school pre-requisites can differ slightly from school to school.  It is important to look at the coursework required for each school you wish to apply to.  A good resource to find the admissions page for each Medical School can be found in the Medical School Admissions Requirement (MSAR) book.  The MSAR can be located at the Career Center resource library or online

Course Subject # Quarters UCSC course sequences most students use to fulfill requirements
General Chemistry Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general (inorganic) chemistry, with laboratory Chem 1A, Chem 1B/M and Chem 1C/N
General Biology  Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of general biology, with laboratory

BIOL 20A, BIOE 20B, and BIOE 20C and three upper-division labs* since UCSC doesn't offer labs with its 20 series.

*Common labs used to fulfill the 1-year of lab are: BIOL 20L, BIOL 101L, BIOL 130L, METX 135L, METX 119L, etc.

Organic Chemistry Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of organic chemistry, each with laboratory

Chem 8A/L, Chem 8B/M, and Chem 109*

*Chem 109 does not have an associated lab, so if a school requires 3 quarters of lab, you may request to take CHEM 110/L if you are not a chemistry major. 

Mathematics Many schools require 1 year of math. Requirements vary greatly, so check each school's admissions requirements.

Math 3, Math 11A (or 19A), Math 11B (or 19B), Math 22*

*Math 22 is not necessarily a requirment. The 1 year of math can be fulfilled using Math 2, Math 3, Statistics, etc. However, 2 quarters of calculus are pre-requisite courses for Physics 6A and 6B.
Physics Nearly all schools require 3 quarters of physics, each with laboratory

Phys 6A/L, Phys 6B/M, and Phys 6C/N


Phys 5A/L, Phys 5B/M, Phys 5C/N

Biochemistry Some schools require biochemistry, most do not. However, it is usually strongly recommended because biochemistry is on the MCAT

Biol 100


BIOC 100A, BIOC 100B, and BIOC 100C

English Composition Requirements vary greatly, so check each school's admissions requirements. Many schools require one year of english.

Courses that satisfy the Core Courses (C1) and Composition (C2) requirements at UCSC will fulfill two quarters of the medical school English coursework requirements for most medical schools.  An additional course in Writing or Literature will usually satisfy the remaining quarter.*

* Save your course syllabi in case any medical schools express concern that you did not complete their English requirement.

Behavioral Science Required by some medical schools. Strongly reccomended because there are MCAT sections cooresponding to these courses. Psych 1 and Socio 1

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Application Process Timeline

To apply to medical school you must use the American Medical College Application Service® (AMCAS®) Web site. AMCAS is a centralized application processing service that is used to apply to participating U.S. medical schools. Most medical schools use AMCAS as the primary application method. Regardless of the number of medical schools to which you apply, you submit just one online application to AMCAS. The AMCAS will process your application and forward it to the medical schools that you have selected.  The schools will then decide whether you will get a supplemanteray application or if your application will be rejected. If you get a supplemntary application, you have a few weeks to return it. If successful, the schools will then invite your for an interview.  If your supplemetnary application is not successful, you will get a rejection notice. Once you have successfully interviewed, the selection committee at the medical school will then decide whether you will recive notification of acceptance, rejection, or wait list.  For more information on the AMCAS please follow this link:

  1. Prior to Applying:
    • Open Letter Service. 
    • Gather Letters of Recommendations. 
    • Continue with your volunteer, work or research activities. 
    • Prepare for the MCAT – Register and choose from approximately 20 dates but should not take later than May/June of the year that you submit your medical school application. 
    • Attend various medical school admissions and application workshops, pre-med. conferences, graduate school fairs, etc. 
    • Consult the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirement) database online and/or Osteopathic Medical College Information Book to confirm school-specific requirements. 
    • Consider these factors when deciding upon where to apply: 
      • D.O or M.D degree
      • Location
      • Cost
      • Size
      • Licensure exam passage rates
      • Faculty interests and reputation
      • Job placement history of program graduates. 
      • Talk with recent M.D/D.O graduates, as well as ask physician employers about various programs’ strengths and weaknesses. 
    • In addition to California medical schools, consider applying to some public or private schools outside of California that accept many (20+) non-resident or non-contract state applicants. 
    • Continue to save money for the application process. 
  2. April/May of Application Year:
    • Should be taking the MCAT or waiting for the release of your score from an earlier test date (April/May but no MCAT after June unless you choose to delay your application. Later MCAT scores will put you at a disadvantage in the admissions process.) 
    • AMCAS application is available. Begin to fill out primary application. Contact AMCAS directly for specific questions that are not found in their instruction manual. 
    • Order and collect official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities that you have attended. 
    • Confirm deadline dates for AMCAS/AACOMAS and medical schools. 
    • Focus on finals or if an alumni, continue to work, volunteer, etc. 
  3. June of the Application Year:
    • Make final decisions on which medical schools to apply to and submit primary application. 
    • Send official transcripts to AMCAS. 
    • Have letters of recommendation sent to AMCAS - check individual schools for specific criteria. 
    • AMCAS verifies primary application. 
    • Medical school decisions regarding secondary applications begin to be forwarded to applicants (if invited to complete a secondary application, begin and submit sooner than later). 
  4. July of the Application Year:
    • AMCAS verification process continues. 
    • AMCAS notifies applicants of verified primary applications or problems with verification 
    • Medical school decisions regarding secondary applications begin to be forwarded to applicants (if invited to complete a secondary application, begin and submit sooner than later). 
    • Continue to submit primary applications. 
  5. August of the Application Year:
    • Continue finishing and submitting secondary applications. 
    • Begin to check medical school application status websites for schools applied. 
  6. September - March/April of the Application Year:
    • Prepare/attend interviews. 
    • Continue to complete and submit secondary applications (check deadline dates). 
    • Send medical schools application updates if acceptable. 
    • Continue to check medical school application status website for each individual medical school. 
  7. October - May of the Application Year:
    • Medical school admissions committees meet and decide status: accept/reject/waitlist. Applicants notified. 
  8. March - May of the Application Year:
    • Medical schools hold “Second Look” or “Admit Weekend” activities. Newly admitted applicants are invited to attend. 
  9. May of the Application Year:
    • Newly admitted applicants must notify AMCAS and the medical school that they plan to matriculate with their decision by May 15th. 
    • Admits with multiple acceptances must choose one school by May 15th and withdraw their application from other schools. 
  10. May - August:
    • Applicants on waitlists are notified of an admission offer (typically, medical schools confirm their class by the end of June). 
  11. August - September:
    • Medical school orientation and school year begins. An applicant on a waitlist can no longer be offered a position at another school once orientation begins at a medical school. 

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Admission Exam: Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

The Medical College Admission Test® (MCAT®), developed and administered by the AAMC, is a standardized, multiple-choice examination created to help medical school admissions offices assess your problem solving, critical thinking, and knowledge of natural, behavioral, and social science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medicine. Almost all U.S. medical schools and many Canadian schools require you to submit MCAT exam scores. Many schools do not accept MCAT exam scores that are more than three years old.

Scores are reported in four sections:

  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

1. Prepare for the MCAT

Prepare for the MCAT exam with official test prep resources written by the test developers at the AAMC, and study materials developed by the same people who helped write the MCAT exam. The Official Guide to the MCAT® Exam is a comprehensive review of the new MCAT exam that includes a deep dive into the content of the exam, information about registration, what to expect on test day, the score scale, and how your scores will be used in the admissions process. The guide also includes 120 practice questions--30 from each of the four sections of the exam. These practice questions are available in an online format that simulates the real MCAT exam experience. On the AAMC website, there is an interactive tool you can use to explore what will be on the MCAT: Take a tour of the materials, watch video tutorials, and view sample questions and explanations. These resources will help you at every stage of your preparation.

2. Register for the MCAT

The MCAT exam is offered multiple times in 2016 from January and April through September at hundreds of test sites in the United States and Canada, and around the world. See the AAMC website for more information about how and when to register for the exam.

3. Evaluating your MCAT Score

Official scores are released 30-35 days after an exam date. You will receive five scores from your MCAT exam: one for each of the four sections and one combined total score.

Section Scores: Each of the four sections--Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior; and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills--is scored from a low of 118 to a high of 132, with a midpoint of 125. Test takers will receive scores for each of the four sections.

Total Score: Scores for the four sections are combined to create a total score. The total score ranges from 472 to 528. The midpoint is 500.

For more information on how to interpret your score, and how to determine if it is competitive, please visit the AAMC website.

Please visit the MCAT website for the most accurate and up to date information about the exam:

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Compare/ Contrast M.D. and D.O.

  1. Two Types:
    • There are two types of physicians: M.D. (Medical Doctor) and D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). M.D.s is also known as allopathic physicians. 
  2. Similarities:
    • D.O.s (just like M.D.s) are licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe medications, and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
    • D.O.s can specialize in any field of medicine, just like M.D.s
    • D.O.s can obtain M.D. residencies, but M.D.s cannot obtain D.O. residencies. 
    • The pre-requisites for D.O and M.D medical school programs are essentially very similar.
    • The application process for both is nearly the same.
    • The medical school curriculum is nearly the same.
      • The one difference is that D.O.s teach Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, which M.D. schools do not teach. 
  3. Differences:
    • D.O.s have a strongly holistic philosophy and practice osteopathic manipulative medicine - a distinctive system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment which focuses specifically on the musculoskeletal system.
    • Osteopathic manipulative medicine is an outgrowth of two basic concepts that underlie the osteopathic approach to health:
      • Structure influences function, which means that if there is an imbalance, injury or other problem in one part of the body's structure, it will affect function in that area - and sometimes elsewhere in the body, as well. 
      • The body has an innate capacity for self-healing. Thus, the object of osteopathic manipulation is to eliminate or reduce impediments to proper structure and function, in order to promote the body's own self-healing mechanisms.
    • D.O.s are most likely to be primary care specialists although they can be found in all specialties. About 50% of D.O.s practice general or family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics.
    • They use different application services
      • If you want to apply to M.D medical schools, you use AMCAS.
      • If you want to apply to D.O medical schools, you use AACOMAS.
    • There are less D.O.s because there are far less D.O. medical schools than M.D. medical schools.
  4. Additional Requirements:
    • Most D.O programs require applicants to submit a letter of recommendation from a D.O physician.

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Overview of Medical School:

  1. Overview:
    • Four years of medical school and 3-8 years for residency/internships. 
    • There are 27 Osteopathic Medical Schools in the United States, and 2 in California.
    • There are 129 Allopathic Medical Schools in the United States, and 9 in California. 
  2. First 2 Years of Medical School:
    • Students spend most of the first 2 years of medical school in laboratories and classrooms, taking courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, microbiology, pathology, medical ethics, and laws governing medicine. They also learn to take medical histories, examine patients, and diagnose illnesses. 
  3. Last 2 YEars of Medical School:
    • During their last 2 years, students work with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians in hospitals and clinics, learning acute, chronic, preventive, and rehabilitative care. Through rotations in internal medicine, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and surgery, they gain experience in the diagnosis and treatment of illness.
  4. After Medical School:
    • Following medical school, almost all M.D.s enter a residency—graduate medical education in a specialty that takes the form of paid on-the-job training, usually in a hospital. Most D.O.s serve a 12-month rotating internship after graduation and before entering a residency, which may last 2-6 years.
  5. Licensure and Certification:
    • To practice medicine as a physician, all States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories require licensing. All physicians and surgeons practicing in the United States must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or, for osteopathic physicians, the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam (COMLEX). To be eligible to take the USMLE or COMLEX, physicians must graduate from an accredited medical school.
  6. Specialty: 
    • M.D.s and D.O.s seeking board certification in a specialty may spend up to 7 years in residency training, depending on the specialty. A final examination immediately after residency or after 1-2 years of practice is also necessary for certification by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialists (ABMS) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The ABMS represents 24 boards related to medical specialties ranging from allergy and immunology to urology. The AOA has approved 18 specialty boards, ranging from anesthesiology to surgery. For certification in a subspecialty, physicians usually need another 1-2 years of residency.

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Where Slugs are going to Medical School

Wondering where slugs are going to medical school? Click here!

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out this presentation for more information, and then make an advising appointment if you still have questions. 

Important Websites:

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