Graduate Medical Education
Osteopathic Physician (DO) Medical Education Timeline
4 years undergraduate study (Bachelor’s degree)
4 years osteopathic medical (DO) degree
Board Certification / Licensure
3 – 7 years internship / residency
1 – 3 years specialty fellowship
Medical Education Roadmap
Complete training to become a physician includes supervised post-doctoral graduate medical education (GME) training in a specific field of medicine.
Graduate Medical Education (GME)
The education students receive in an osteopathic medical school is undergraduate medical education, and the subsequent training provided in a residency and fellowship program is graduate medical education (GME).
After graduating from an osteopathic medical school, students seeking licensure continue training in graduate training programs called “residency,” the first year of which may be called an “internship” or a “transitional year.” Successful completion of a residency program is required for specialty board certification.
GME typically focuses on one field of practice. Examples include family medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery, preventive medicine, dermatology, radiology, and others.
DO students typically enjoy a high rate of placement into GME programs. In 2020, 99.29% of DO students successfully placed into a residency program.
In the fourth year of medical school, graduating osteopathic medical students apply to programs that reflect their preferences based on a variety of factors. Applications to GME programs are administered through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Following interviews that provide students and programs with information about each other, students submit their choices in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), ranked from their first to last choice. Programs also rank the applicants they would like to have working in their programs. DO students typically enjoy a high rate of placement into GME programs. Learn more at www.aacom.org/match.
Types of Programs
As of June 2020, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is the accreditor of all GME programs in a single accreditation system. Osteopathic medical students can pursue training in ACGME-accredited programs in all specialties and subspecialties.
In pursuing GME, osteopathic medical school graduates can choose the following options:
- Residency (Categorical): A graduate of a college of osteopathic medicine can match directly into a residency program and start specialty training. A “categorical” position is one which offers full residency training required for board certification in that specialty.
- Preliminary: The doctor of osteopathic medicine chooses to go into a specialty and will be in a first-year program that may be separate or linked to the specialty training they will pursue. Some specialties will require a preliminary year.
- Transitional Year: A one-year training program in multiple clinical disciplines designed to facilitate choice of and preparation for a specific specialty.
- Military GME
- Fellowship: A graduate of a residency training program may choose to pursue further training in a particular sub-specialty.
Osteopathic medical school graduates can choose to pursue graduate level osteopathic training to continue to build knowledge and skills in osteopathic principles and practices. Any ACGME-accredited program can apply to receive “Osteopathic Recognition”, a designation that indicates osteopathic principles and practices are integrated within the training program. Students can view an up-to-date list of programs with the ACGME Osteopathic Recognition designation on the ACGME’s website at https://apps.acgme.org/ads/Public/Reports/Report/17.