For the 2017-2018 school year, over 51,600 students submitted an average of 16 applications each for placement into a U.S. Allopathic Medical School. With a resulting, 43 percent admittance rate and 41 percent matriculation rate, almost three out of every five applicants found themselves without a spot. While re-applicants made up just under 30 percent of the applicant pool in 2017 – 2018, and schools look favorably on re-applicants, there are some medical career alternatives worth considering.
1. Osteopathic medicine. According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), more than 20 percent of current medical students in the United States are training to be osteopathic physicians. These physicians or surgeons, who receive a D.O. rather than an M.D. degree, are doctors licensed to practice in the United States. While the education and certification paths are similar, differences exist in both the training curriculum and philosophy of patient care. AACOM says, “Osteopathic physicians use all of the tools and technology available to modern medicine with the added benefits of a holistic philosophy and a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Doctors of osteopathic medicine emphasize helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention, and disease prevention.”
Osteopathic residency is currently in a transition to a single accreditation system for those pursuing both osteopathic and allopathic degrees. By 2020, all medical internship, fellowship, and residency programs will be accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), whereas previously the ACGME accredited allopathic programs and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) accredited all osteopathic. The changes are very much underway, and according to National Resident Matching Program 2017 data, 3,590 D.O. candidates submitted rank order lists of programs with a match rate of 81.7 percent. Both the number of candidates and match rates were all time highs.
2. International Medical Programs. While the U.S. is home to many excellent medical schools, there are also compelling programs in Israel and the Caribbean, which tend to be less competitive from an admissions standpoint. Caribbean schools often have the benefit of rolling admissions, and allow for students to start in January. In Israel you can attend an American Medical Program where classes are facilitated in English, though you may need to acquire some Hebrew for matriculation at The Technion and the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.
In 2017, according to the National Resident Matching Program, the number of U.S. citizen graduates of international medical schools who registered for the match and submitted rank order lists of programs declined. However, for the 5,069 who submitted rank order lists of programs, the match rate was the highest since 2004 at 54.8 percent. Match rates tend to be higher among those attending American medical programs in Israel, as compared to graduates of Caribbean programs.
3. Podiatry School. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine are certified physicians or surgeons who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. These Physicians receive a DPM, rather than an MD, and undergo a similar education, residency, and certification process.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average growth in the employment of podiatrists, with projected growth of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is due to the aging population and the likely increase in demand for medical and surgical care of the foot and ankle, as well as for treatment of issues associated with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that impact patients’ feet and ankles.
4. Physician’s Assistant. A Physician’s Assistant works closely with a licensed physician or surgeon as a part of a collaborative medical team and can examine, diagnose, and treat patients under supervision. While certification requirements vary by state, most PAs graduate with a master’s degree from a Physician Assistant degree program and then need to complete a set number of clinical work hours before sitting for the National Certification exam.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects much faster than average growth in the employment of PAs, with projected growth of 37 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is due to the growing and aging population and a projected increase in the demand for healthcare services.