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Getting Started

Have you decided to pursue a career in medicine? These resources will answer many of the questions you may have about pursuing a career in medicine and the process of applying to medical school.

Allopathic Medicine vs Osteopathic Medicine

If you plan to apply to medical school, you have a choice between allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) programs. While there are differences in curriculum and pedagogy, in the state of Georgia both a DO and MD will receive the same medical license and privileges to practice medicine.

Allopathic medicine refers broadly to medical practice. The term allopathy was coined in 19th century by Samuel Hahnemann to designate the usual practice of medicine as opposed to homeopathy.  Allopathic medicine is defined as “a method of treating disease with remedies that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself”.

If you are interested in practicing medicine as a MD, the most authoritative resource is the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The AAMC is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools, nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers, and 90 academic and scientific societies.

For many pre-med students, the AAMC's website is the best place to begin learning about the process for becoming a physician.

There are 4 allopathic medical schools in Georgia:

  1. Emory University School of Medicine
  2. Medical College of Georgia
  3. Mercer University School of Medicine
  4. Morehouse University School of Medicine

Osteopathic medicine involves a holistic or "whole-person" approach to healthcare and osteopathic physicians receive specialized training involving the musculoskeletal system. Specifically, osteopathic treatment usually involves a system of therapy known as osteopathic manipulative medicine.

Osteopathic physicians are licensed to practice the full scope of medicine in all 50 states. They practice in all types of environments, including the military, and in all types of specialties, from family medicine to obstetrics to surgery. However, the primary focus of osteopathic medicine is primary care.

If you are interested in learning more about osteopathic medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)serves as a valuable resource.

There is only 1 osteopathic medical school in Georgia with two campus locations:

  1. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Georgia Campus)
  2. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (South Georgia Campus)

Osteopathic medical school prerequisites and the application process, including the MCAT, are similar to M.D. schools.  Their centralized application is AACOMAS.

Podiatric Medicine

If you are interested in entering a more specialized field, you could consider podiatric medicine (DPM) which focuses specifically on the lower extremity.

Podiatrists (Doctors of Podiatric Medicine or DPM) are qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg, i.e. the lower extremity.

Podiatrists are a vital member of the healthcare team. They are often the first to detect symptoms of diabetes or cardiovascular disease because of the human foot’s interrelation with the rest of the body. DPMs are licensed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and practice in a variety of settings.

If you are interested in learning more about podiatric medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM) serves as a valuable resource.

Podiatric medical school prerequisites and the application process, including the MCAT, are similar to M.D. schools.  Their centralized application is AACPMAS.

There are no podiatric medical schools in Georgia.


Building your credentials

To prepare for a career in medicine you will need to build credentials in scholarship, leadership, humanitarian/community service, research and shadowing in the various settings of the profession. Many students do not get into medical school the first time that they apply. The traits that predict success in the profession include, high academic aptitude, hard work, the ability to work well with others, and good judgment.

There is no “best” major for pre-med students nor are there majors that will make students “stand out.”  You are encouraged to pursue majors in which you are most interested.

What do medical schools look for when reviewing applicants?

Medical schools consider the following credentials when evaluating applicants for admission:

  • Academic record (both overall and science GPA)
  • MCAT scores
  • Letters of Evaluation (including faculty and physician letters)
  • Exposure to doctor-patient interaction ("shadowing")
  • Volunteering, as well as charitable/altruistic endeavors
  • Research experience
  • Leadership abilities
  • Interpersonal communication skills

Note: Medical schools may also require background checks of applicants before matriculation.