TCOM – Offering the M.D. Degree

There’s been some commotion over the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) offering a medical doctor (M.D.) degree option for its students.

There are some fundamental differences between allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O) doctors, namely the latter’s emphasis on a “holistic” (mind-body-spirit) approach to treating physical ailments, but for the most part both degrees encompass the same education and training. Residency programs are increasing the number of D.O. matches every year, and overall, people are beginning to view both medical degrees as equals.

It would be a pointless move for the school if you ask me. A lot of students choose TCOM because of its osteopathic foundation. If they wanted to study the allopathic medicine, they would’ve enrolled at an allopathic school. Only makes sense, doesn’t it?

While the two are very similar in practice, from a philosophical standpoint, the disciplines are rather different. To maintain that separation and preserve TCOM’s reputation for quality osteopathic training, it would be counter-productive to offer an M.D. degree. This isn’t like offering a new joint-degree program (M.D./Ph.D., M.D./J.D., etc.). It’s offering a replacement degree for what students have been earning for years.

Finally, does anyone else think there would be a ridiculous amount of “conflict” amidst the student body? Imagine having a class where some students are pursuing an M.D. and others a D.O. Sure, these are intelligent, professional students, but sometimes we can’t help but put down our rivals. Just a thought. 🙂

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  1. I think a good percentage of osteopathic doctors these days are doing allopathic residencies, (i think, i could be wrong), so if thats true, then just merge them and be done with it, i have a friend in a D.O. school who i always feel is trying to show me that its the same, when I obviously know its the same thing, in fact all of us in the caribbean are not there because we like the weater, if i could have gotten into a D.O. school in america, u think i would have suffered on thse third world pathetic islands for so long?

  2. I’m a 3rd year medical student frrom the caribbean, I’m gonna end up with an M.D. and I didnt have a chance at an allopathic or osteopathic school. I really think they should just have 1 medical degree for M.D’S, D’O.’S and even Dentists and vets (even though most might disagree) i just think u should have one medical degree then after the 4 yrs of medical school, then there should be these different career paths to take. I dunno just my opinion..

  3. Interesting discussion.

    I have the unique perspective on being a TCOM graduate, (early 90’s), who did an osteopathic residency in primary care, who served in the military, and now I am in a very large group practice/academic practice. As far as I know I am the only DO certified physician in our practice (1000+ docs). Most DOs in our group did allopathic residencies.

    I wish I had not done an osteopathic residency. In fact, sometimes I get tired of explaining what a DO is. There is absolutely NO PRACTICAL DIFFERENCE between a DO and MD. Yes, I used to do a fair amount of manipulation in my primary care practice because I wanted to, I liked it and my patients liked it. It is just another tool in the toolbox. We don’t all have the same tools, but it is not that big of a deal.

    My main problem with the osteopathic side of things is that to maintain my Board Certification, I have to pay the AOA $700+ per year. Not the ACOFP, the AOA. I am a member of the AMA, but don’t have to be. I HAVE to join the AOA. Not an option.

    I feel that the AOA, and the whole “DOs are different” is just about justifying themselves and trying to preserve their turf, etc. In years past, MDs abd DOs were different. DOs did not always get the same quality education they do now. They had to have osteopathic hospitals since they were not allowed privileges and allopathic institutions. That has changed. I appreciate the effort of the last generation of DOs, but the landscape has changed. It is time to move on.

    Oh, and by the way, I CHOSE to attend TCOM. It was the only school, allopathic or osteopathic, to which I applied. I believed in the quality of TCOM and the philosophy of osteopathic medicince. A holistic approach to care IS better. But it does not REQUIRE an osteopathic physician to deliver that care.

    • This is really the only reason why I think the two should just merge. when the two really are exactly the same, its just ridiculous that this student is displeased with doing a AOA residency. i used to feel stupid telling people i am a student in the caribbean, but not anymore, i have no problem saying my grades werent good enough for US or canadian schools, so I had to move to a foreign third world deserted island and spend 3 and a half years trying to finish basic sciences. hopefully ill be good at the career i choose, and if that is the case, then i really would have no problem explaining why my medical degree is from the netherlands antilles. lol

  4. Being a tcom student that is tired of the bs, I too would like to give my useless opinion. First off of course I voted yes for the m.d. option. I recall applying to medical school hoping that there was a spot open for me, the key word there was “a spot”. With that said I’m curous how many people that are so opposed to the md degree are such becuase they were not accepted at am md school that they wanted to go to. I’m not asking who got into the military md school, carribean (50k per year), or some school in Wyoming that was going to require you to go practice out there after residency for 10 years should you had decided to accept their slot? Dr Ransom is a brilliant man, he realizes the need forore phsicians and has therefore chosen to make a smart business move for both the unt hsc and community of fort worth. Now being that this is a medical school and people are full of some serious bs I will respond to some interesting comments. First off to those saying that the md school will cause the two groups not to get along because of the differences; let’s face it there will always be more md’s out there and if you’re claiming that your reason for not wanting an md school is because students won’t get along, I suggest you drop out because for the rest of your life you will either learn to get along with other physicians ( md and do) or be one of those physicians that has to practice in an area where the only medical school is a D.O. one and once they realize that times are going to change, turn in a resignation and leave their deparment “hanging”. For those of youthat are at tcom you know who this is, for those of you not, it’s the director of omm that just left because the thought of bringing in an md school must have been too much. For thos of you claiming that we have a different and unique approach because we are do’s, I’ll be nice at your naivemess, first of how many if you are in a hospital where you are rotating with another medical student that is an md, secondly, how many f you have used omm in a hospital settin or non omm and family rotation and lastly how many of you remember omm year two and the “unique” material that was covered in cranial. Look, I’m not saying we dot have competiive students, we do, there are some of the smartest students here, with great usmle and comlex scores that are doing jut as much work as their equally competitive md counterparts, unforunately, we do not have a teaching hospital, because a while back we had this nice lttle hosptal where they only employed other do’s and tried to refer only to do’s. That was a dumb move not just because it makes no business sence, but because it was not in the best interest of the patient. We’re now in 2009, and the city f fort worth is asking for an additional medical school l, should the unt system not take it, a different system will, that will then make some nice little deals where we currently have students rotating and have absolutely no reason to help and include us in the deal. So try to find a way to deal with it and not be closed minded or start looking for an osteopathic only residency and a place where there is only a do school in the area without any md schools too nearby. That’s my uless opinion! Swstud- that’s a homo nickname but you made some good points man.

  5. TCOM will never offer an MD degree. The UNT Health Science Center is considering a new and separate college of medicine that would offer the MD degree. The university already hired a consultant to make the degree happen. I do not see any down side for students. Students can choose to earn only a DO degree. Others can choose the MD degree. And some may choose to earn both the MD and DO degree. These degrees will exist in two schools and will have some overlap. This will allow TCOM to graduate over 200 students per year. The MD school will graduate a separate class of students. Ultimately, this will create more doctors for Texas, more and better clinical rotations for DO and MD students at local hospitals, more faculty for both MD and DO students, better facilities for both MD and DO students, etc. This is all good except for the few old DOs that are paranoid, insecure, and do not understand the modern medical world. Hey guys, MDs and DOs must work together to improve patient care. Most DO hospitals are long gone and most DOs must work in combined MD and DO general hospitals. This new MD school at UNT should be embrassed and not debated.

  6. md&do,
    You are right. This school UNTHSC should offer an M.D. degree. Why? Because the world knows what an M.D. is, like me, a Medical Doctor. As much as I like fellow friend doctors of mine, who are DOs, I gotta tell you, no one in the general public ever really knows what a DO is and appear to questions the DO’s knowledge compared to the MD.
    You DOs should get the recognition you deserve and change your degree to M.D. or M.D,D.O. You know with all these mid-levels RISING these days, us doctors need to stick together so I hope you damn DOs out there will wake up and change your degree to M.D.! You can still do your manipulation, but us doctors need to stand strong together as MDs!!

  7. The M.D. school should be added at UNTHSC (TCOM). Then, the DO students who continue to graduate there should be offered the option degree of MD or MD,DO , as AT Still,MD,DO had requested he be called.

  8. I think M.D. and D.O are about 99.99999% the same. The only reason why people over look D.O is because people they not so popular. For some reason Methodist has more DO working than any hospital in Houston, probably even Texas.

  9. Majority of the DO students aren’t there cuz they chose to be. DO students are there either because they arent competitive enough for MD students so they apply to DO instead, or the other is that they just cant make it to MD schools even after applying so they chose DO instead… very few actually PLAN the DO school while in Undergrad….but either or… people I know that have gone to DO schools tend to enjoy is alot and they love it…so yeah…as far as this article…i totally want the TCOM to offer MD and DO both…just because that would be 150 more spots for applicants applying all over texas… =)

    • Though I know some people who follow in suit with your observation of DO students essentially being leftovers, I still don’t think it would be advantageous for TCOM to deter from its focus. That’s just my opinion, of course. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  10. why vote no rishi? if TCOM offer that as an option, that would give students more incentives in going to their school.

    • I voted no for many of the reasons that Sadiya outlined. Imagine yourself attending class where some students are pursuing a D.O. and others an M.D. By nature of the course requirements, it’s not fair to evaluate them on the same scale. But Sadiya’s comment is the most credible since she’s actually a D.O. student, and she voted “no” too. 😀

  11. Alrite, so being a current student at TCOM I believe that I have more of a first-hand experience at the commotion that has risen due to the MD option. We have had several meetings with President Random about this and have given him our perspective. He did state for a fact that the MD option is being considered for more funding and also for more rotation spots for the students. They are trying to mimic wut Michigan has at their school with the MD and DO program. President Ransom claims that the MD option will benefit the DO program as well. JPS, which is our county hospital, will sign a contract with TCOM if they add the MD option just so they wouldn’t be considered an osteopathic hospital, although about 90% of the doctors working there are DOs. If a contract is signed with TCOM it will guarantee more rotation spots for the students. The students at TCOM, as well as me, have a fear that if the MD option is given at the school there will be competition between the students and the DO program will be overshadowed by the MD program. Also… DO students have more of the workload since we have to take OMM which is very, very, very time consuming (trust me, it is) so if they have an MD program at TCOM it will be unfair if they started comparing the MD students’ grades to the DO students’ grades since the MD students don’t have to take OMM. In my opinion and the opinion of most of the students at TCOM from first-hand experience is that having an MD option will cause TCOM to lose their essence and what the school is based upon. Dr. Dubin, the associate dean, claims that their focus will still be on primary care but somehow I don’t believe that will happen. I also disagree with UTSWstud about the difference between DOs and MDs being so minuscule. Yes, if you go into specialties there really isn’t much difference but if you look at primary care, the way DOs and MDs treat their patients is totally different in a lot of cases, but it also depends on which doctor you had the experience with. I hope my insight has cleared some stuff up. TCOM is already chaotic as it is with the DO program, adding an MD program will cause a mess, with the faculty and students.

    • Thanks for the first hand input, Sadiya. Very much appreciated! Guess we’re the only two who’ve voted “No” in the polls so far. 🙂

  12. I agree completely with UTSWstud…and to add to that post, I’ve heard people say that most of the faculty at TCOM are M.D.’s themselves.

    Sure there can be many reasons to not want the merger such as “TCOM is doing it to get more funding..” to ” TCOM’s primary focus should be promoting D.O.” to “This will raise competition amongst the students of both schools..” etc..

    But esentially all that should matter is what UTSWStud said, as well as the fact that Texas needs more physicians. Heck the US needs more physicians. Another school will provide more seats. Afterall, isnt that what medicine is about? To help/cure/heal those with an ailment?

  13. Besides OMT, Osteopathic schools are taught EXACTLY like allopathic schools. If people “choose” a D.O. school over an M.D. school for primary care reasons, then WHY when you look at match lists see so many go for competitive fields? Oh wait, that’s right, there are D.O. only residencies in Derm and Orthopedics, which by nature would have less competition than allopathic residencies in those fields. Then you’d have to open up those residencies to allopathic students as well!!!

    As of current, allopathic students can’t apply to their D.O. residencies but D.O students can apply to allopathic residencies. Now if you were a D.O. why would you even consider an allopathic residency? Doesn’t make any sense does it?

    This discipline of D.O. vs. M.D. is all BS do you really think these students who go for even surgery residencies, OB, etc. in many allopathic residencies actually use their OMT skills? No, they don’t, they do the allopathic way, just like everyone else in residency. I know bc I’ve had rotations with D.O.s. So the delineation between D.O. and M.D. is so minor as to be miniscule.

    D.O. students who apply to competitive allopathic residencies take the USMLEs as well. So this is NOTHING more than a ridiculous turf battle to continue building D.O. schools. Remember, if D.O. schools can not “prove” there is something different. There will be no incentive to build more D.O. schools or to even have D.O. only residencies. THAT is what this is about.


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