Physicians diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses. They examine patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, and order, perform, and interpret diagnostic tests. They counsel patients on diet, hygiene, and preventative healthcare. Physicians may work as general practitioners or choose to specialize in any number of over 120 specialties and sub-specialties. 

Medical Degrees

There are two types of medical degrees. Allopathic medical schools grant the M.D. degree and Osteopathic medical schools grant the D.O. degree. 

What's the difference? 

The basic training at allopathic and osteopathic schools is essentially identical. The primary difference is that osteopathic medical schools and physicians take a more "holistic" approach to the practice of medicine. In addition to using all forms of standard medical treatment, D.O.'s are trained to use osteopathic manipulative treatment to help diagnose injury and illness, alleviate pain, and promote a person's well-being. They work in partnership with each person to promote health on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.

1 in 5 medical students in the United States attends an osteopathic medical school. Upon full implementation in July 2020, graduates of all osteopathic and allopathic medical schools will be allowed to complete their residency and/or fellowship education in programs accredited by the same agency.

MD and DO Medical Programs: Similarities and Differences

National Professional and Student Organizations:

Sources for Knowledge of the Field:

Requirements and Involvement

Learn more about pre-requisite course requirements, advanced placement credit options, extracurricular opportunities, and more!

Application Process

Are you prepared to enter the application process? The review process includes many factors involving academics, career exploration and clinical experience, life experience, aptitude tests, letters of evaluation, personal statements, and more. 

Application Timeline

Find out key deadlines for school applications and view a sample application timeline to keep you on track.


The Doctorate of Medicine and of Philosophy (MD–PhD) is a dual doctoral degree for physician–scientists. The degree is granted by medical schools often through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) or other non-MSTP MD-PhD programs.

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