How to Turn Your AMCAS (MD) Personal Statement into Your AACOMAS (DO) Personal Statement

DO schools represent a great opportunity for many medical school applicants.  However, many students find themselves applying to both MD and DO programs with most students focusing on the AMCAS portion.  So when time gets around to it, the question gets asked “should I submit the same personal statement?”

The answer is: NO.  But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be a completely new statement. AMCAS and AACOMAS used to make life difficult for applicants by having different character limits.  Fortunately, as of 2019 AACOMAS has increased the personal statement character limit to 5300 to match AMCAS, kissing the days of stress-deleting sentences goodbye.  So, how do you make sure your AACOMAS personal statement is as great as your AMCAS one?  

STEP 1: CONNECT THE EXPERIENCES INCLUDED IN YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT TO OSTEOPATHY

If you’re applying to DO schools, you should know a little bit about osteopathic medicine. A brief review of some of the tenants of osteopathic medicine:

  • Holistic care – the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.  As such, there is a larger focus on treating the whole person beyond just physical ailments including mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
  • Self-healing and self-regulation – osteopathy places large emphasis in the body’s capability to self-regulate.
  • Relationship between structure and function – manipulation is crucial to osteopathic medicine.  DOs use manipulative treatment and manipulative medicine to attempt to correct health issues.
  • Prevention – a focus on preventative care to eliminate illness and procedures in the future is also a major focus.

If most of your takeaways were about how much cutting edge surgery means to you or how you plan on opening up the largest research lab in the northern hemisphere, those might need to be re-adjusted to include some of the principles core to becoming a DO physician.  The point is, these experiences and the stories your telling should be able to tie into philosophies above.

STEP 2: ADJUST YOUR REFLECTIONS IN YOUR CURRENT AMCAS PARAGRAPHS

Ideally, you will just be tweaking some sentences and reflections to make them more specific to DO philosophy rather than re-writing entire paragraphs.  

For example, if part of your service experiences involved interacting with diverse underserved communities, you can draw on the themes of cultural competence as part of holistic care.  

The screening tests you performed to help diagnose early hypertension can be considered a tenant of preventative medicine.  

The physician you saw tending to a patients mental and spiritual health can tie into treating the body, mind, and spirit.

STEP 3: “WHY OSTEOPATHY?” VERSUS “WHY MEDICINE?”

The next piece of the transformation likely may necessitate adding a little bit of new material to ensure your answering the question of “why osteopathy”.  The AMCAS essay focuses on “why medicine”, and while you are going to be practicing medicine, it is important for AACOMAS to specifically address why osteopathic medicine.  You want the admissions committees to know why you want to become a DO, not to think you just copied and pasted your MD personal statement as a backup.  

Make sure to go through your essay and highlight the portions that address “why medicine” and transform them to “why osteopathy”.  This will be the most crucial part of the makeover.  

The biggest changes will likely be in your conclusion as this is usually where most fo the take-home lessons are. Spend a little extra time making sure that your conclusion answers “why DO?”

There you have it!  Now both your AACOMAS and AMCAS personal statements will be in tip-top shape.