Before we talk about how to write your D.O. personal statement, I first need to applaud you for your decision to go the D.O. route.

My husband William, a radiologist, has practiced at our local hospital in Somerset, Ky., for the past 20 years. When the hospital was chosen as a training center for D.O. students and residents a few years ago, William became an associate professor to help educate them. Having these students and residents here has not only enriched the culture of the hospital, but of the whole town. Happily, many of the graduates are staying to practice in our rural community.

While I can’t say William, who trained as an M.D., is an easy-going physician to shadow (“Is there any way you can chew your gum with your mouth closed?”), he does start every introduction by saying that the best radiologist he ever worked with was a D.O.

So, trust me, you have our utmost respect for pursuing this path. That said, let’s get going with how to write your D.O. personal statement.


First off, the prompt is so vague that I actually had to call the AACOM to make sure I’d found it. I was reassured I had, and here it is:

“Write a brief statement expressing why you would like to be considered for the programs you are applying to.”

You’re encouraged to keep it general (meaning, so it can be used to apply to several programs; it, in itself, should not be written in a general way), and you have just 5,300 characters to work with, which usually translates into a single-spaced page + a healthy paragraph.

Essentially, they have asked for you to explain why you want to be a D.O. or, if you’d like, what about you would make you a good D.O.

As such, you should begin with a vividly-told story that highlights an “aha” moment of yours that can illustrate traits that suit you to the field. How to carve out that winning story? Click here and, to save time, skip down to the section heading that reads, “START WITH TWO LISTS.”

But, before you go, recognize that this admissions essay is a different beast than an M.D. personal statement. Why? About one-third of your essay should explain specifically why you are interested in the D.O., as opposed to the M.D., approach.


The official tenets of osteopathic medicine are:

  • The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.

  • The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.

  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.

  • Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.

One major difference with osteopathic medicine is D.O. students receive 200 additional hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine, which the AACOM describes this way: “This system of hands-on techniques helps alleviate pain, restores motion, supports the body’s natural functions and influences the body’s structure to help it function more efficiently.”

If you’ve shadowed a D.O. and witnessed the difference in treatment and outcome, you should, by all means, describe that experience in your essay. I still wouldn’t start with it, however, since you don’t want to come across as pandering, a), and, b), it will probably say more about the D.O. than you.

There are other differences, too. D.O.s:

  • Tend to practice in more rural or underserved urban areas.
  • Work to improve wellness in their communities as a whole.
  • Work alongside patients as a partner to try to assess what social factors might be hampering patient health.
  • Have a strong background in primary care. About one-third of graduates become primary care physicians, meaning they work on the frontlines of patient care.

In your personal statement, I encourage you to choose two of these points to highlight. In so doing, make sure you discuss how osteopathic medicine specifically appeals to who you are. After all, committee readers aren’t reading your statement to learn more about osteopathic medicine, they’re reading to learn more about you.


  • This article contains insight from physicians in the field and what they look for in D.O. personal statements.
  • This link helps you edit your personal statement for structure and flow.
  • This link helps you get rid of the grit in your grammar.


Know that you can do this. You have an extremely open-ended prompt to work with, and that means you have the opportunity to really make this yours. You already have the material within you to make this into something great. Just follow these tips and tactics to get it there.

In the meantime, as always, know that I am here at [email protected] if you need more help.