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 application interview. Completing this crucial step also demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to the osteopathic profession.

Students should contact a DO before applying for admission, beginning as early as possible while in undergraduate education. The best ways for finding DOs are:

  • Osteopathic college admission and alumni offices. Admission and alumni officials at schools have many contacts in the osteopathic profession. Contact them, and let them know that you are looking to shadow and learn more about becoming a DO. 
  • The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) membership office. The AOA maintains an online national directory of practicing DOs. A locality search will give you contact information and in many cases will link you to the website of your state’s osteopathic association. To contact the AOA Membership Office visit the AOA Website: https://osteopathic.org/
  • 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 health professions advisor.
  • Your college’s Pre-Student Osteopathic Medical Association (Pre-SOMA) chapter. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/pre.soma

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

Current osteopathic medical students are another good source of information about osteopathic medical education, as are the Pre-SOMA chapters on undergraduate campuses. 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.