There are many career paths within medicine. Most physicians work with patients full-time, however others also teach, engage in research, work in administration, and contribute to health care policy. Depending on your interests you may consider pursuing one of the following degree paths:
M.D.: Doctor of Medicine, Allopathic Medicine
The M.D. is a four-year degree administered by medical schools, culminating with the USMLE, the medical licensing exam. After medical school, most doctors continue on in a residency program where they receive more specialized training.
D.O.: Doctor of Osteopathy, Osteopathic Medicine
Like the M.D. the D.O. is a four-year degree administered by osteopathic medical schools. Training for an M.D. and D.O. are quite similar and degree recipients are licensed to practice medicine. Osteopathic medicine includes additional training in the musculoskeletal system with a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). Osteopathic medicine also emphasizes a holistic approach to medicine in focusing on the whole person. D.O.s must take the COMLEX licensing exam, and can also choose to take the USMLE. D.O.s practice the full scope of medicine in all specialties of the medical field.
Combining a Ph.D. with an M.D. or D.O. degree prepares students for careers in academic medicine, such as a medical school professor or biomedical researcher. Adding a Ph.D. generally adds three to four years to a student’s medical school program; thus, you finish after seven or eight years rather than four. You can then choose to go on to complete a medical specialty or not, just like other M.D. or D.O. graduates.