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An Eye M.D.'s perspective: Practicing Another Brand of Medicine

Posted Feb 23 2011 7:31am
  If I brag about one of my sons, it wouldn't surprise or necessarily impress any of you, because we're all proud of our children, and we all think they are special (for the most part). But let me brag anyway for just a moment.
My middle child, Michael, has been a great kid to raise. He excelled in sports, was a natural leader in many areas, went on several medical mission trips with me, and was very gifted academically. He finished college in 3 years with a 4.0 GPA. But he, like so many, struggles on standardized tests … including the MCAT. So while his MCAT scores were respectable, they fell just shy of what the major medical schools sought. The allopathic medical schools, that is.
The Alternative It turns out there's a whole other brand of medical school, the osteopathic variety, about which many of us "M.D.s" and our patients know precious little. It seems they also look at MCAT scores, but don't consider them the rigid screening criteria our traditional M.D. programs do. They focus more on your grade pattern over the years, your character and the kind of doctor you'll turn out to be. Let's face it — when you were in medical school, you saw some of your fellow students who, while brilliant, seemed, well, socially maladjusted. And those students are now doctors! Surely we can strike a balance between intelligence and a good ability to interact with patients.
Back to Michael. As with other students, he had the option of taking expensive prep courses, one of which he'd already taken, retake the test, and perhaps in another year or two, qualify for admission to an allopathic school, but with no guarantees. Or, he could consider the osteopathic route. He and I both talked to osteopaths in our community, and they were very encouraging. It turns out osteopathy is not what some of us think. When he did apply to these programs, he was exactly what they were looking for. Most accepted him within 24 hours of his interview. Imagine that. They were simply looking for normal, intelligent students who would make the best doctors. Since that time, I've had the chance to speak with several osteopathic ophthalmologists about their experiences in the field. We asked the incoming president of the American Osteopathic College of Ophthalmology, Dr. Sydney Kay Simonian, to help explain this all to us in this issue in Notes From a D.O. Ophthalmologist. I hope you'll take the time to read it. In a few years, it looks like I'll have M.D.s, O.D.s, and D.O.s in my practice!
Via Ophthalmology Management: View Point from the Chief Medical Editor, Larry Patterson, MD
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