Shop    |     Sign In
Skip navigation links
Becoming an Osteopathic Physician
Shadowing a DO and Learning About the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine
Training for Health Professionals
General Admission Requirements
Overview of the Four-Year Curriculum
Board Examinations and Licensure
Web Sites for Potential Medical Students

Shadowing a DO and Learning About the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine 

Colleges of osteopathic medicine encourage applicants to learn more about the profession by identifying an osteopathic physician to shadow. Many of the colleges require applicants to get to know a DO and request a letter of recommendation as part of the application process. Applicants should meet and spend time shadowing the physician. This provides the applicant with exposure to the osteopathic profession and enhances awareness of osteopathic medical philosophy. Working with a physician will prepare the applicant for the interview. Completing this crucial step also demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to the osteopathic profession.

Students should contact an osteopathic physician before applying for admission, beginning as early as possible while in undergraduate education.

The best ways for finding osteopathic physicians include:

  • Osteopathic college admission and alumni offices. Osteopathic Medical School admission and alumni officials have many contacts in the osteopathic profession. Contact them, and let them know that you are looking to shadow and learn more about becoming an osteopathic physician.
  • The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) membership office. The AOA maintains an online national directory of practicing DOs who are members of the AOA. You can search by ZIP code to find a DO closest to you.
  • Contacting state osteopathic associations. Many of the state associations compile lists of their members who have indicated an interest in having prospective osteopathic medical students shadow them.
  • Your college's pre-health advisor. Learn more about pre-health advisors at

Once you have found a doctor near you, call or send the doctor a letter. (Remember most doctors are very busy, so please be respectful if you cannot speak directly to the DO.) If you explain your interest and share your enthusiasm for the profession, many DOs’ offices will be delighted to host you for a day or two. They will be able to show you what they do so you can decide if you want to study osteopathic medicine.

Current osteopathic medical students are another good source of information about osteopathic medical education. The colleges have student ambassador programs, alumni, student government leaders and members of the Student Osteopathic Medicine Association, all of whom are eager to talk about their schools with prospective medical students. For further information, contact the admissions office at the schools in which you are interested.

To contact the AOA Membership Office:

AOA Website:

If you do not have access to the Internet, contact the AOA at:

American Osteopathic Association
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611

(800) 621-1773
(312) 202-8000 (for international calls)


© 2008-2014 AACOM. All rights reserved.
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7231  P 301.968.4100 F 301.968.4101