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Medicine Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

Physicians (M.D.s/D.O.s) diagnose illness and injury, prescribe and administer treatment and advise patients about how to prevent and manage disease.

There are two paths to becoming a doctor: allopathic medicine, which leads to an M.D. (medical doctor), or osteopathic medicine, which leads to a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine).

To learn more about pursuing a career in allopathic medicine, see the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) site, AAMC also has an Ask the Experts column that provides authoritative perspectives on issues related to becoming a doctor. 

To find accredited osteopathic medical schools, see the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website. The American Osteopathic Association includes an updated global map detailing the International Practice Rights for Osteopathic Physicians.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) also have helpful guidelines for anyone considering a medical career. Whether you opt to become an allopathic or osteopathic physician, you must take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) before applying to any med school program. 

For a fascinating glimpse into the real-life experiences of seven doctors, see NOVA Online's special feature, "Doctors’ Diaries."

Note: The cost of earning a degree in medicine is high, but different avenues are available for funding your education. The Association of American Medical Colleges also offers resources on its Financial Information, Resources, Services and Tools (FIRST) webpage