Effective May 1, 2017, AACOMAS will include all course attempts in the GPA calculation. This change applies to students matriculating into the 2018-2019 academic year. In the event of multiple attempts of the same course, AACOMAS will no longer drop initial course attempts from the GPA calculation. – From the AACOM website.
You read that correctly, the grade replacement policy that has been a hallmark of DO hopefuls has come to an end. It seems that in its continued attempt to be more like its more mainstream counterpart, the AACOM has ended the Osteopathic dogma of “looking at the whole person” when considering incoming applicants.
Just in case you are unfamiliar, the calculation used to compute an applicant’s GPA differs based on whether they apply to DO (Osteopathic) or MD (Allopathic) schools. For example, let’s assume that you received a “D” in Organic Chemistry due to various factors, but later retook the class and received an “A”. If you were to apply to an MD school they would average the two grades together, giving you an overall C+ average for two classes. An Osteopathic school, on the other hand, would let you replace the lower grade with the higher retake, giving you the “A” average for one class. This difference may seem trivial, but the Osteopathic application made it significantly easier to repair a poor to middling GPA. Many non-traditional applicants relied on grade replacement to get into school, but this option will no longer be available.
In fact, it was only because of the DO grade replacement policy that I was able to enter medical school at all. As I have discussed in previous posts, I had a rough start to my undergraduate studies. I had focused on athletics and other non-academic aspects in my life, and my GPA paid the price. However, after graduating, I went back to school and retook some classes and was able to claw my way back to have a competitive application. DO grade replacement is the only reason I am going to be a doctor, and if I had to apply this year, I doubt I would have gained acceptance.
It’s important to note that not much is going to change in terms of who will and won’t be accepted into medical school. Although I was one of them, a very small minority of students rely on grade replacement to get into medical school. The applicant pool is fairly static, and the quality of candidates will likely continue to follow the same trends that currently exist. Sure, there may be a very slight dip in the average accepted GPA next year, but I suspect that in the next three to four years it will begin to approach the allopathic average. What will change, however, is that there will be fewer non-traditional or second career applicants.
The exclusion of non-trads and career changers by the Osteopathic community seems very hypocritical. Why proclaim that you are a more “holistic” organization that has a more welcoming and distinct belief system, when it seems that the primary goal has been to assimilate into the MD world? This has been the trend of the last few years. The DO community has been trying to maintain that we are unique and separate from our Allopathic counterparts, all while trying to emphasize that there is no difference between MDs and DOs when it comes to credentialing or practice rights. What’s it going to be? Are we different, or the same? We largely study the same material, function interchangeably in our practices, and are held to the same standards. Very few DOs use OMT in their practice, and even fewer support the more dubious treatments such as Cranial OMT or Chapman’s reflexes. How much really separates us?
I, for one, think that we have reached a point where there is not enough difference between the two philosophies to warrant their separation. As we head toward a unified match program, I can only hope that we are also heading toward a unified profession. It is unfortunate that one of the results of this merging process is that students who were counting on Osteopathic grade replacement will suffer in the upcoming admissions cycles. If I was an upcoming applicant, I would be discouraged by this news. However, what this change seems to signify is the upcoming end of two historically distinct professions and the beginning a single unified profession. How long this will take, or what it will look like in the end is unclear, but there will some growing pains as we adapt to this new reality.
Are you going to be affected by this change? What are your plans for the upcoming application cycle? Let us know in the comments!