Med-ed spotlight

A closer look at this year’s US News-ranked DO schools

Find out how these schools stand out in family medicine, primary care, rural medicine and geriatrics.

This year, eight osteopathic medical schools made U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 lists of the Best Medical Schools. The DO reached out to each ranked school for more info on how each is innovating or standing out in the areas of family medicine, primary care, rural medicine and geriatrics.


Shared by KYCOM: The mission of KYCOM is to provide men and women with an osteopathic medical education that emphasizes primary care and produces graduates who are committed to serving the health care needs of communities in rural Kentucky and other Appalachian regions.

Our curriculum is designed to support our mission. The clinical course curriculum in the first two years is directed by osteopathic family physicians and is delivered predominately by practicing primary care doctors. Our clinical curriculum in the third and fourth years is conducted mostly at smaller community hospitals in rural areas. It includes two third-year core rotations in family medicine and a required rural medicine rotation in the fourth year, along with a number of other required primary care rotations spread over the third and fourth years. This extensive role modeling has a significant influence on the career paths of our graduates. Over 70% of the 2017 KYCOM graduates will be entering primary care residencies, with nearly one half of those going into family medicine.

One of our current fourth-years, Becki Adams, exemplifies our mission. A nontraditional student from rural Kentucky, Adams is a mother with teenage children who will complete a family medicine residency in northern Kentucky.


Shared by OU-HCOM: In 2013, then again in 2017, OU-HCOM Dean Ken Johnson, DO, commissioned a Heritage College Blue Ribbon Committee for Primary Care, which investigated the factors that lead to students pursuing careers in primary care/family medicine, including recruitment, curricular experiences, clinical experiences and more. The school made strategic decisions based on its findings, such as changes to our student selection process to better identify those students predisposed to primary care/family medicine.

In addition, OU-HCOM also provides several debt relief scholarships to students who pursue primary care/family medicine residencies or commit to practicing primary care post-residency.


Shared by WVSOM: Among all medical schools in the nation, WVSOM is No. 5 in the percentage of graduates entering primary care specialties, based on 2014-2016 residency data. Specifically, 70.3 percent of WVSOM graduates entered primary care.


Shared by MSUCOM: In the past four years, more than 60 percent of all MSUCOM graduates have entered primary care residencies.


Shared by RowanSOM: A larger class size supported by an expanded problem-based learning curriculum, strong mentorship programs, student involvement in underserved communities and a robust graduate medical education program help to encourage students to pursue primary care careers. The Class of 2017 will continue a four-decade tradition when half of its graduating physicians continue training in primary care residencies.


Shared by TCOM: UNTHSC/TCOM produces more primary care physicians than any other medical school in the state. Frank Filipetto, DO, the school’s senior associate dean, attributes the school’s success in primary care to several factors.

“Our admissions process emphasizes variables such as altruism and service, as well as knowledge of the osteopathic philosophy of prevention, wellness and holistic care,” Dr. Filipetto said.

In addition, TCOM students have a required eight-week family medicine clerkship, double the length found at many medical schools. Many of the school’s college advisors and small group facilitators are family physicians, meaning students are exposed to primary care expertise early and often.


Shared by UNECOM: The UNECOM admissions process focuses on selecting students with broad-ranging experiences and backgrounds that suggest strong humanism/altruism characteristics. Our admissions committee is chaired by a family doctor. Most interviews are conducted by a team that includes a PhD faculty member, primary care faculty member and a current student.

Beginning in year one, clinical experiences expose students to a wide range of patients in primary care settings. Additional immersion experiences in rural and underserved communities throughout the first and second year give students opportunities to work as primary care providers in interprofessional teams. Our Care of the Underserved Pathway (CUP) Scholar program helps students learn about and experience the many challenges facing these populations and the vital role primary care doctors play in solving them. Innovative programs that team the students with geriatric mentors reinforce the ongoing patient-physician relationship of primary care.


Shared by OSU-COM: “Our mission at OSU is to provide primary care physicians for rural and underserved Oklahoma,” says Kayse Shrum, DO, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The goal is to train even more primary care doctors for rural Oklahoma by reaching out to the people who already live there. OSU is implementing outreach programs to identify youth from rural Oklahoma who might make great doctors. Operation Orange is a traveling summer camp to bring our medical school to them. High school students meet with medical students and learn what they need to do to prepare for college.

“Operation Orange gives us the opportunity to engage high school students from rural areas and let them know that a career in medicine is an option for them,” Dr. Shrum says.


Shared by KYCOM: Our admissions process gives preference to applicants from rural and underserved areas of Kentucky and Appalachia. These applicants are statistically more likely to enter primary care residencies and return to rural and underserved areas to practice. In addition, as previously mentioned, our clinical curriculum in the third and fourth years is conducted mostly at smaller community hospitals in rural areas. It includes a required rural medicine rotation in the fourth year.


All WVSOM students complete at least three rural/underserved rotations, and students have the opportunity to gain additional exposure to rural medicine through various activities, including a four-week wilderness medicine rotation, The DO reported last year.


Shared by RowanSOM: Geriatrics has long been a focal point at RowanSOM. Led by its New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging (NJISA), RowanSOM has been recognized 16 times by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s top medical schools in this medical discipline.

“We were one of the first medical schools to require that all students receive specific training in geriatrics,” says RowanSOM Dean Thomas Cavalieri, DO. “We are one of the few medical schools that maintains a distinct department of Geriatrics and Gerontology. Additionally, we focus strongly on research that targets diseases of aging and helps older adults live successfully in today’s world.”


  1. James Smith

    It is very difficult for me to understand how medical schools justify charging $40-50K per year for tuition and that the students actually will accept the fact that they will be on average $180K in debt after 4 years. The average PCP earns around 200K$ per year. With rising costs for everything else it would take at least 20 years to pay off that amount of debt. Most spouses who marry a doctor expect that their living standard will be high because they ‘landed a doctor’! I would caution young doctors to be very careful about who they marry and also to make sure that they budget wisely. A divorce on top of that kind of debt would make being a physician ever LESS glamorous than it actually is today!

    1. James Clinton DO, FACP

      I agree that medical school costs are way too high and that the debt of today’s med students is nearly overwhelming. Most university education is overpriced for many reasons. One is that the training that we used to do for free is now mandated by the government as a cost the medical school must pay for. I also agree with your statement about a young doctors choices of whom they marry and their budgetary expenditures. If you choose a spouse who is excited about “landing a doctor” or expects a glamorous lifestyle you will be in big trouble, especially if you choose primary care. The PCP lifestyle is definitely not glamorous. Also, the PCP salary you cite is inflated, especially for private practice. l am in my mid sixty’s, at the the top of my game, and haven’t seen $200K in the last five years. Good Luck and Go With God, JC

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