How to Use AACOMAS When Applying to Osteopathic Medical Schools to Earn Your D.O. Medical Degree
Not sure what to make of AACOMAS while applying to medical school?
Here are the two analogies to help clarify things for you:
- It's similar to the Common Application you use for applying to college
- It's equivalent to the AMCAS application when applying to M.D. (allopathic) medical schools
Before jumping ahead let's get some terminology down:
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS).
This is a centralized osteopathic medical school application service that will make it a lot easier for you when applying to medical school.
The huge advantage for applicants to medical school is that you will only have to submit one primary application to all the osteopathic medical schools you choose.
Trust me when you're applying to nearly 20 different medical schools having a centralized application is exactly what you need.
Plus, if you ever spoke with a medical school student they will tell you one of the challenges of applying is not being prepared for the amount of work required to submit your medical school application.
Huge Difference in Your AACOMAS Application
Before I tell you the major change with your AACOMAS application I want to take a quick detour.
One prevalent rumor says, "You go to a D.O. medical school if you can't get into a M.D. medical school".
However, I don't believe this and neither should you.
Everyone has personal motivations and unspoken reasons for choosing a medical school. Plus, regardless of where you go to medical school you'll be a doctor at the end of the day.
Let me tell you a story about myself...
I actually get into both M.D. and D.O. medical schools. Many people are surprised to learn that I chose the osteopathic route because it more closely aligned with my goals and personal perspective on what I thought medicine should entail.
In short, don't let anyone dismiss you or say you're not a true physician based on where you attend medical school. But here's the kicker throughout my time interacting with patients never have I had problems about being an osteopath, to patients I am the doctor.
Okay, let me stop and get to the main point...
The huge change to AACOMAS as it relates to your grades and transcript!
Grade replacement is now OUT.
No more grade replacement on your osteopathic medical school applications.
Previously AACOMAS would accept your most recent/highest grade and drop the first grade if you repeated a course.
Now all attempts from a course will be calculated into your GPA while applying to osteopathic medical schools.
If you were hoping on D.O. schools to be more lenient with your academics that's just not going to happen.
My Sunday School benediction from church has a line that I still remember which goes, "study to show thyself approved". It would be wise for you to do the same as a premed who has dreams of getting into med school.
Getting Started With Your D.O. Application
The application cycle for admission to osteopathic medical school begins in May and ends the first week of April.
Want to know one of the easiest ways to improve your chances of successfully getting into medical school?
The key to getting into medical school is to apply early and this includes osteopathic medical schools too.
Many schools use a rolling admissions process so if you're one of the first to apply you have a better chance at admission. Processing of your application begins only after payment has been received.
Two very important parts to your AACOMAS:
- MCAT score
- Transcript aka GPA
Make sure you request official copies of your transcript be sent directly to AACOMAS and also keep a copy for yourself. Transcripts are necessary so you can complete the Academic Record portion of your med school application.
MCAT scores are required for admission into a college of osteopathic medicine and they are not automatically forwarded.
It is your responsibility to designate American Association College of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service as a recipient (Social Security Number is needed for this transaction to occur electronically).
Your D.O. application will not be processed without a MCAT score. If you decide to take another MCAT at a later date your application will be automatically updated.
There's a $195 fee associated with applying to osteopathic medical colleges and this fee can only be paid via credit card or money order made payable to:
1900 L Street, NW, Suite 603
Washington, DC 20036
For each subsequent school it will cost you $45 or as positive thinkers would say, "it's not a cost, think of it as an investment..." right, LOL.
Fee waivers are available in the amount of $195.
But what's not cool is that if you're granted the fee waiver and want to apply to more than one osteopathic school you will still be responsible for the $45 fee due to each school you apply to.
Not sure the Fee Assistance Program (FAP) is beneficial if it only gets you one application especially considering you need to apply to roughly 15 medical schools to be a competitive applicant.
My LOR Almost Ended in Tragedy
Letters of evaluation (recommendation) must be sent directly to your designated colleges of osteopathic medicine. Do not send to AACOMAS, otherwise they will be returned to you.
Be sure to verify all your application materials are received by each medical school you're applying to.
Okay, so putting aside being an anxious premed my gut was telling me, "it should not take this long to hear back from a medical school".
Wanting answers I decided to pick up the phone and call the school in question to inquire about the status of my application.
After speaking with an admissions officer they got back to me and said my application was incomplete as they were missing my LORs.
I was incredulous because my LORs were sent electronically and I also had the verification/receipt code.
There are so many things I can share with you about pitfalls that can totally derail your medical school application and I should honestly write about all the crazy and highly unlikely events that happened to me on my journey towards becoming a doctor.
Okay, enough about me let's get back to you and your osteopathic medical school application.
Your AACOMAS Application Profile
AACOMAS processing generally takes anywhere from three to six weeks.
There will be an applicant profile generated and provided to all the osteopathic medical schools you designate. Your profile will include the following:
- Colleges You Designated (applicant copy only)
- Name and Social Security Number
- Sex and Date of Birth
- Preferred Mailing Address
- Permanent and/or Legal Residence (County/State)
- Citizenship and (if applicable) Visa Type (blank if US)
- Disadvantaged Response
- Year of Most Recent Application to a D.O. Institution (Year of Most Recent Application to This College: specify individual college)
- Misdemeanor or Felony Conviction
- Family Member a D.O. or M.D.
- Advisor Release Statement
- How you first learned of osteopathic medicine
- Degree, Date, Major and Institution
- GPA and Hours by Subject
- Course Record GPA and Hours by Subject
- Deficiencies in required course hours based on the specific requirements of each college
- Hours less than a grade of C or 2.0
- Date to take or retake the MCAT
- Number of times the MCAT was taken
- MCAT Scores (upto three sets)
- Quality Points: Science, Non Science, and Total
- Date Applicant Profile was printed
Hedging Your Bets with D.O. Schools
I'm not from a different planet and I know there are many students who are absolutely biased against osteopathic medical schools.
I may have been the same way myself so I hear you.
But at the end of the day medicine is medicine although your D.O. counterparts will have an extra 200 hours of training in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM). Plus while in the hospital no one has ever stopped me or questioned my validity because all they see is the white coat and doctor.
To paraphrase Michelle Obama, "life has a funny way of working itself out." I never thought I would be a D.O. but here I am and I have no complaints about it whatsoever.
Now I did get into M.D. programs as well so I know about applying to each program type.
Here's my advice to those who want the M.D. but are also willing or unsure about the D.O. route.
Apply to M.D. if your heart is set on that path.
But if things are not going well such as limited interviews or flat out rejections from these schools then you have to realize you just may not get in.
If all that matters is being a doctor then you need a plan B.
You can start applying to osteopathic programs in January since their application cycle runs much longer than M.D. programs.
This way no matter what happens you've given yourself additional options in your goal of becoming a doctor. I have to warn you D.O. programs are very competitive too but they do take a more holistic approach in reviewing your application.
And regardless of what route you go you're still going to need to pass your standardized boards aka medical licensing exams and compete against everyone else for a residency position as both D.O. and M.D. use the same ERAS residency application process.
Go Ahead and Apply to Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
Now that I've given you the rundown on an osteopathic centralized application you might as well go ahead and submit your application.
Oh, by the way. There's a lot riding on your medical school application. What you submit really can make the difference between living the life of your dreams as a medical student and ultimately a doctor or being one of those applicants who made a deadly mistake which totally kills any chance you have of getting in.
If you'd like help applying to medical school then let's talk.