What does a doctor do?
“Physicians support and manage the health care of people of all ages. They take medical histories, perform physical examinations, conduct diagnostic tests, recommend and provide treatment, conduct research, and advise patients on their overall health and well-being” (Association of American Medical Colleges).
There are three main categories of physicians:
- Primary Care Physicians: these providers are visited by patients most frequently and are able to develop long-term relationships with those patients. Examples of primary care physicians are pediatricians, family practitioners and general internalists.
- Surgeons: these doctors are responsible for performing operations to treat diseases and repair injuries.
- Specialists: these practitioners have expertise in a certain field related to diseases, parts of the body, organs and systems. Examples of specialists include cardiologists, neurologists, gynecologists and oncologists. There are over 135 specialties; to explore descriptions of and information on these specialties, use the AAMC Specialty Profiles database.
Choosing This Field
When figuring out if this profession is right for you, make sure to look at various resources to inform you about careers in medicine, engage in self reflection regularly, and seek out clinical and service experiences.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has a variety of resources to help prospective pre-medical students explore the field, including: Ask the Experts: Exploring Medical Careers, the Ask a Medical Student Video Series, and Ask the Experts: Preparing for Medical School as an Undergraduate.
To explore similar resources in osteopathic medicine, explore the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine’s (AACOM) page Preparing for DO School and the Choose DO Explorer pages Qualities of a Successful DO Student and Websites for Prospective Medical Students.
Our office also encourages you to explore the AAMC’s What Can I Do With My Degree page. There are opportunities to translate a medical school degree into research, teaching, business, leadership, advocacy, journalism and more.
You can also learn more on the American Medical Association‘s website.
What is the difference between MD (Allopathic) and DO (Osteopathic) medicine?
Allopathic and osteopathic medicine are very similar to one another, both in terms of preparation and practice. The main difference between the two is that osteopathic students will receive additional training about the musculoskeletal system and the Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), a hands-on diagnosis and treatment method. See this graphic from the AAMC to understand the differences and similarities. DO programs also offer more of a focus on preventative care and reducing the amount of pharmaceutical intervention. To hear directly from UConn alumni about their experience in osteopathic medicine programs, make sure to check out the recording on our Chat with Alumni series from 2/11/2021 here on our website.
Medical students in DO programs have the same amount of opportunity to pursue clinical specialties and residencies as their MD counterparts. To learn more about osteopathic medicine, explore the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine‘s (AACOM) website. To find more specific information about practicing as a DO, visit the American Osteopathic Association‘s (AOA) pages. AACOM’s Choose DO Explorer site also has a host of resources for learning about the DO schools and education that can be through from their Preparing for Medical School page.
What preparation is required for MD and DO programs?
As a student completing an undergraduate degree, you will need to complete the necessary prerequisite course requirements for admittance to medical school. There is no required major for pre-medical students—students are welcome to explore their major options.
In addition to undergraduate preparation, both MD and DO applicant are required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a seven-and-a-half hour exam that tests on understanding of foundational concepts and big ideas from science and social science coursework.
Applicants are also expected to have accumulated a certain number of clinical hours (direct patient care and shadowing experiences) and service hours (community service and volunteer work). Make sure to watch one of our office’s group advising sessions for further information and explore the AAMC’s resources for gaining experience and exposure to the medical profession.
Medical training is a seven to ten year commitment. Medical school requires four year of study and residency/specialty training can range from three to eight years. Medical students will also need to pass a board exam known as the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) for MD students and the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) for DO students.
For information on the application process to MD schools, visit the AAMC’s page Applying to Medical School with AMCAS. For information on the application process to DO schools, visit the AACOM’s page AACOMAS Applicant Help Center.
Find a Program
If you want to know more about programs and opportunities available at UConn, visit the UConn School of Medicine’s website.
Talk to the Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising Office
Our office is here to support you explore health care pathways and careers! We welcome appointments to discuss your options with our pre-medical and pre-dental advisors. To schedule an appointment, visit our website.