Osteopathic Medicine

Osteopathic medicine is a form of medicine developed in 1874 by an allopathic physician who wanted to focus medicine to not only eradicate disease, but prevent it. Today, its core philosophy is that the body is to be treated holistically, with each component depending on the other. Those who pursue a profession in osteopathic medicine earn a degree as a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy). A DO has the same training and scope of practice as an MD, and can apply to allopathic residencies and work in allopathic hospitals. However, a DO is also trained to use manipulative techniques, similar to chiropractic care, and to approach diagnoses with a different perspective.

Please note: This is an informational page for current SPU students and does not represent a program that SPU offers.

Obtaining a D.O. degree requires four years of undergraduate study, extensive experience shadowing physicians, clinical experience, and demonstrated devotion to serving the community. The Medical College Admissions Test must be completed. The medical school licensing exam, COMLEX for osteopathic doctors, must be completed to practice medicine in the U.S. After graduation, doctors will complete one year of internship and 3-8 years of residency (the supervised practice of medicine by a senior attending physician).

Professional Websites

General Information


Osteopathic medical schools are accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA).


  • Medical School – 4 years
  • Residency Program – 3 to 7 years depending on the specialty


Most medical school applications can be submitted through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). Consideration to schools usually requires the following:

  • Completion of the following course work:
    • 1 year Biology, 1 year of Physics, 1 year of English, 2 years of Chemistry including Organic Chemistry
  • Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)
  • Letters of Evaluation – submitted through the AACOMAS Letter Service [Depending on the school, a premedical committee evaluation may be required.]
  • Shadowing Experience
  • Volunteer Experience with an underserved population

Standardized Tests

Alternative paths in medicine

Read in the Napa Valley Register how SPU alum Haylee Yepson (BS Physiology 2012) not only became a Doctor of Osteopathy, but is now one of only 200 Navy flight surgeons working in the US.