When people think of a career in medicine, they often picture a physician’s role in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease in a clinical setting. However, physicians can have careers in a number of non-clinical settings, including (but not limited to): research, teaching, business, public health, journalism, or political advocacy.

In the United States, physicians are trained in Allopathic Medicine (earning an M.D. degree) or Osteopathic Medicine (earning a D.O. degree). What’s the difference?

Physician-Scientists devote a portion of their professional efforts to research. The primary pathway to this career is through a combined degree, either an M.D./Ph.D. or D.O./Ph.D.

Some medical schools will have other graduate degrees available for students to earn in combination with their medical degree, including (but not limited to): Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Public Health (M.P.H.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), or Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.).

After they complete their medical degree, physicians participate in additional training – known as Residency – in their area of specialty. The length of this training varies, depending on the specialty being pursued.

Allied Health professions with similar clinical responsibilities include Physician Associates (formerly known as Physician Assistants) and Nurse Practitioners. For more information about these and other Allied Health professions, contact our campus partners in the Office for Academic and Pre-Professional Advising.

You can learn more about this health profession at The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and

Additional Resources

Professional associations, professional education associations, and affinity groups provide news, professional development, and community. This list is not exhaustive but instead provides some examples of organizations that may be of interest to pre-professional students. UMBC does not guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.

Association of American Medical Colleges:

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine:

American Medical Association (AMA):

Section for pre-med students

American Physician Scientists Association (APSA):

Student National Medical Association (supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students):

American Medical Women’s Association:

Latino Medical Student Association:

Medical Student Pride Alliance:

Medical Students with Disability and Chronic Illness (Stanford Medical Student Association):

Pre-Health Dreamers  (organization for DACA-status students):

F-1 Doctors (organization for international pre-health students):