By: Alessandra Santiago

At this point in the Ready, Set, Apply series, we have only covered material relevant to allopathic medical schools. In this article, we will do a brief overview of some of the relevant information for osteopathic applicants, including dates for the AACOMAS application as well as dual applying to allopathic and osteopathic programs.

Similar to the MSAR database for AMCAS, D.O. schools have a database for osteopathic medical programs called Choose D.O. Explorer. Here, you can register for an account and find which schools that might be a potentially good academic fit for you.

Much like their M.D. counterparts, D.O. schools have their own application processing program that outlines their criteria for selection, course requirements, and key competencies. This group is called American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS), and in general, it has a much quicker turn-around than AMCAS.

The AACOMAS application opens for submission in early May, and the first round of application review happens in early June. Note: once the application opens in May, students can immediately submit their AACOMAS applications, unlike AMCAS. There is no waiting period between when the application opens and when it can be submitted. After submission, there is still a 3-4 week verification review of the information provided in your applications. Many students receive notice of their application determinations from D.O. schools earlier than M.D. programs (some acceptances arrive as early as October!).

The AACOMAS personal statement, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, MCAT submission, and coursework are nearly identical to AMCAS, but the secondary prompts will be specific to D.O. schools. Students should know why they are interested in pursuing an osteopathic approach to their medical education over an allopathic approach. The interview process is also similar to AMCAS, which we will cover in a future article.

For AACOMAS secondary essays, consider the following prompts:

It is also helpful to have some extracurricular shadowing/clinical experiences working specifically with osteopathic medicine and patients. These types of patient care experiences can help you shine through your secondary essay prompts.

Finally, once you have received an acceptance from a D.O. school, you must pay a deposit to that school to hold your seat. For students who are applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, this fee can be staggering: between $1,500-2,000. Try to allocate funds for this, especially if you are a student who must set aside cash for other allopathic applications and interviews. Schools must inform you of their decision by March 15, 2021. Through AACOMAS, you can hold several spots at several schools until April 30, 2021, after which point, you must select your program while remaining on a waitlist for other D.O. schools through July or August.

Assignment #13:  Decide if D.O. is right for you! Look into signing up for Choose D.O. Explorer database. Reflect on your experiences with osteopathic medicine, or with the principles of osteopathic medicine. Start saving for the D.O. deposit.

Up next: Secondaries. Before secondaries season hits, be sure to check out our next article in two weeks about preparing for the onslaught of secondary essays.

If you want to learn more about navigating the Pre-Med journey, check out our Getting Into Med School: Tips and Tricks Blog.

We also have some upcoming pre-med Wilderness Medicine courses during Spring Break (just in time for application season!). For West Coast pre-meds, check out our Channel Islands Wilderness First Responder Course!