There are two types of fully licensed medical doctors in the United States: M.D.s and D.O.s. While the M.D. degree stands for “Doctor of Medicine,” the D.O. degree stands for “Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.”
Allopathic Physician (M.D.)
M.D.s examine patients, obtain medical histories, order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe and administer treatment for people suffering from injury or disease. They counsel patients about illness, injuries, health conditions and preventive healthcare (diet/fitness, smoking cessation, etc.). They can also conduct medical research, teach and run medical centers. People with medical education are in demand in many areas. Find out more about becoming an M.D. here.
Osteopathic Physician (D.O.)
D.O.s practice osteopathic medicine, which represents a school of medical thought first introduced by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in 1874. Osteopathic medicine encompasses a unifying philosophy and approach to patient care, as well as a system of Osteopathic hands-on diagnosis and treatment through the use of manipulative medicine. Like their M.D. counterparts, they are fully licensed to diagnose, treat, prescribe medications and perform surgery in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Today, more than 20% of all U.S. medical students are studying at a college of osteopathic medicine. To learn more about a career as a Doctor of Osteopathy, click here. You can also check out this site to learn more about osteopathic medicine.
M.D./Ph.D. Dual Degrees
The Association of American Medical Colleges has great resources that help students interested in M.D./Ph.D. programs explore their options. M.D./Ph.D. programs provide training in both medicine and research. They are specifically designed for those who want to become research physicians, also known as physician-investigators or physician-scientists. Graduates of M.D./Ph.D. programs often go on to become faculty members at medical schools, universities and research institutes. Regardless of where they eventually work, M.D./Ph.D. candidates are being prepared for careers in which they will spend most of their time doing research, in addition to caring for patients. The M.D./Ph.D. dual career is busy, challenging and rewarding, and it offers opportunities to do good for many people by advancing knowledge, developing new treatments for diseases and pushing back the boundaries of the unknown. Find out more about this dual degree option from AAMC here.
- M.D./Ph.D. Panel – Discussion on the process of applying (video)
- Weighing an M.D./Ph.D.? Read the AAMC M.D./Ph.D. Guide
- Workshops for Prospective M.D./Ph.D.s
- M.D./Ph.D. Is it right for me?
DIY Pre-Med Student Planning Guide
Our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Pre-Med Planning Guide & Self Assessment document provides important resources for UT Austin students planning on applying to Medical School.
First and Second Years
- Subscribe to the HPOinfo emails.
- Take an average to heavy course load: 14–16 hours is considered a normal pre-med course load. It is okay to take 12–13 hours your first semester at UT Austin.
- Get to know your professors. You will need faculty evaluations when you apply to medical schools. Two from science faculty are recommended.
- Meet with a pre-health professions coach in the Health Professions Office to explore health professions and to discuss your goals and preparation, especially how to make the most out of your first two years.
- Declare a major by your second year on campus.
- Non-College of Natural Sciences students are highly encouraged to add the Pre-Health Professions Certificate. Learn more about the certificate here.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities (e.g., student organizations, volunteering and shadowing in medical settings; community service).
- Attend the Health Professions Fair each year, generally held in February or March, to visit with representatives from medical schools and other health professions programs.
- Keep viable career alternatives open.
- Complete premedical requirements by May of your third year.
- Prepare for and take the MCAT, ideally no later than the end of your third year.
- Visit medical school websites; decide where you will apply.
- Ask faculty who know you well if they will write evaluations in support of your medical school application; you will need two faculty evaluations. Science faculty letters are recommended.
- Attend the Health Professions Fair, generally held in February or March, to visit with representatives from medical schools and other health professions programs.
- Complete and submit medical school primary and secondary applications and complete CASPer early in the summer, after your third year.
- Most medical school interviews take place during the late summer and the fall semester.
- Acceptance offers to medical school begin during the fall semester.
- Complete UT Austin degree requirements necessary for graduation.
- Throughout your fourth year, continue in pre-medical activities and additional courses to prepare for medical school and to strengthen your application in case you need to apply again.