Didn’t get your question answered? Submit it here!

About Noorda-COM and the DO Difference

What is osteopathic medicine?

There are two pathways a student can take to become a doctor: The MD (allopathic) path or the DO (osteopathic) path. The allopathic medical philosophy is defined by using symptoms to form a diagnosis and treatment plan. Osteopathic medicine’s philosophy focuses on treating the whole person and finding the root causes of illness. While all healthcare workers are trained to listen to and treat patients, DO training emphasizes partnering with a patient to work towards greater well-being.

DOs follow a nearly identical educational and licensing route to MDs. However, DOs also obtain an additional skillset (“OMM”, or osteopathic manipulative medicine) that involves physical manipulation of the body’s muscles and tissues. Like MDs, DOs complete four years-worth of medical school including two years of clinical rotations; board exams, and a 3-7 year-long residency program in their desired specialty area.

What is osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM)?

“OMM” stands for osteopathic manipulative medicine. (It is sometimes referred to as “OMT”, or osteopathic manipulative treatment.) OMM is the physical manipulation of the body’s structures, such as organs, muscle tissues, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

Osteopathic manipulative medicine is one of the many tools in a DO’s toolkit. It is often used to augment treatment for headaches, arthritis, stress injuries, sports injuries, or pain in various areas.

However, OMM does have a wider application to medical students: it provides student doctors with enhanced palpatory skills and an elevated understanding of the body’s anatomy.

Why does Utah need another medical school?

Utah is the fastest-growing state in the nation—and Utah County is the epicenter of the Intermountain West’s unparalleled population growth. Projections estimate that Utah will gain 1 million citizens by 2030. When combining these estimations, it’s approximated that 3 million citizens in central Utah will need physicians.

Unfortunately, Utah currently ranks in the bottom 10% for key physician workforce categories and is 49th in the nation for the number of primary care physicians to population.

With growing populations, pre-existing physician shortages, and 75% of all Utah student doctors leaving the state for a program or residency, Utah has a dire need for graduate medical education. And that’s why Noorda-COM was created: To address the growing healthcare needs of Utah and serve its citizens. Noorda-COM also recognizes that its creation is only one piece of the solution, which is why we work with the state legislature, other medical schools, and key opinion leaders to create new and expand existing residency programs in Utah.

Where is Noorda-COM located?

Noorda-COM sits on a 30-acre campus in south Provo, looking out to Timpanogos Golf Club and the stunning Wasatch Mountain range. The four-story, 140,000 square-foot academic building includes 70 learning pods, a simulation center, 18 “OSCE” rooms; custom-made anatomy and OMM labs, an open, self-serve “micro market”, student and faculty lounges, library, a multi-faith room, private showers and bathrooms, and a variety of study spaces.

What does pre-accreditation mean?

All osteopathic medical schools obtain and maintain pre-accreditation status until (just) before they graduate their first cohort of students. Noorda-COM has been granted pre-accreditation status by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). COCA reviews a college’s success—including its academic progress and many other factors—to ensure that the college can produce confident, competent physicians.

Noorda-COM is on-track to receive full accreditation in 2025, when its inaugural class graduates.

Is Noorda-COM a proprietary institution?

Yes, Noorda-COM is a proprietary institution, overseen by a Board of Directors. However, Noorda-COM also qualifies as an IRS-certified Program Related Investment (PRI). The PRI provision allows private foundations to invest in proprietary activities (if the work of the proprietary entity aligns with the private foundation’s mission and objectives). The Ray and Tye Noorda Family Foundation is the lead investor in Noorda-COM.

Noorda-COM also has its own separate 501(c)3 Foundation which allows the school to accept charitable donations for scholarships, research, academic programming, and community outreach.

Admissions Requirements

How do I apply?

Noorda-COM only accepts applications through the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS). The AACOMAS application cycle opens each May for students planning to join the following year’s class.

When is the best time to apply?

Noorda-COM has a rolling admissions process, which begins on the first Monday in May. Applicants who apply early in the cycle have the greatest opportunity for an available seat. Applications to Noorda-COM must be submitted to AACOMAS by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 1.

How many students are in each class?

Per COCA guidelines, Noorda-COM can accept 180 students each year. COCA accounts for an 8% variance (due to attrition).

Does Noorda-COM only accept students from Utah?

No. Noorda-COM will accept applications from any qualified student across the United States.

What are Noorda-COM's admissions requirements?

Our admissions requirements align with those of other medical schools. Visit the Admissions Page for a detailed list of prerequisites.

Is it acceptable to take the MCAT more than once?

Yes. Noorda-COM reviews all MCAT attempts and accepts valid MCAT scores for three years from the original test date.

What are Noorda-COM’s minimum requirements for GPA and MCAT?

A total MCAT score of 500 with subsection scores of 125 is preferred. Total scores of 494 and below will not be considered. MCAT scores are valid for three years from the original test date. Exams must be taken no later than March 31 of the year of matriculation.

A minimum cumulative and science GPAs of 3.0 are preferred. We appreciate that an applicant’s last 60 credit hours are a meaningful representation of their current ability and, as such, evaluate that as a separate metric. Learn more about academic requirements for admission here.

How are repeated courses factored into GPA calculations?

All course attempts are included in the AACOMAS GPA calculation. However, Noorda-COM follows a holistic application review process, considering factors in addition to GPA and MCAT.

Are prerequisite courses from a community college accepted?

Yes. If the courses are taken at a regionally accredited institution, the credits will be accepted.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?

Letters of recommendation/evaluation are required from the three following sources:

  1. A healthcare source who is familiar with the applicant’s work in healthcare/with patients (preferably an osteopathic physician)
  2. An academic source who is familiar with the applicant’s academic work
  3. A character reference who can speak to the applicant’s personal attributes and character traits

Note: Letters must be signed and on letterhead and dated within two years prior to application submission. Letters from family members are not accepted.

What does a secondary application require?

Applicants who meet minimum technical standards and who align with the mission and values of Noorda-COM will be invited to complete a secondary application. This application will include submission of a video (preferred) or essay and professional headshot, a signed attestation of minimum technical standards, letters of recommendation, and a $60 secondary application fee (non-refundable, waived for applicants who qualify for AACOMAS Fee Waiver or AAMC Fee Assistance Program).

What does the interview process look like?

Selected applicants are invited to participate in formal, personal interviews, in person or virtually. Applicants are interviewed by faculty or staff (who only have access to an applicant’s personal statement and secondary application video/essay). Interviews are conducted in a traditional format, and applicants are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Communication style
  • Professional demeanor
  • Ethics, cultural and/or human sensitivity issues
  • Interest in Noorda-COM and the osteopathic profession

During this interview session, applicants also have the opportunity to meet with the admissions team, campus leaders, and student ambassadors to learn more about Noorda-COM. In-person interviews also include a campus tour.

Does Noorda-COM accept transfer students?

Students enrolled at a medical school accredited by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOA-COCA) or the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) may be considered for transfer admission into the beginning of the second or third year of medical studies at Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine (Noorda-COM) upon completion of the equivalent level of medical education as currently structured at Noorda-COM and provided that a vacancy exists. The last two years of education must be completed at Noorda-COM. LCME-enrolled transfer students must successfully complete all OMM/OPP competencies before graduation from the COM. Transfer or admissions with advanced standing is at the discretion of the Dean. Please read our Transfer Admission Policy in full here.

Do I need to have a criminal background check or drug screen prior to matriculation?

Yes. Students must complete both a criminal background check and a drug screening prior to matriculation. These screenings must be performed by a certifying organization retained by Noorda-COM. Repeat screenings will be required before third and fourth year to participate in Clinical Education requirements.

Our Curriculum

Are there no scheduled lectures at Noorda-COM?

Yes. We do not offer a traditional medical school lecture schedule. Instead, students meet daily on-campus with a pre-established group of peers to watch pre-recorded lectures, produced by Noorda-COM faculty, in learning pods. Faculty are available in-person or online to answer questions about the materials. Videos are supplemented by in-person weekly reviews. Noorda-COM does require that students complete traditional labs, exams, and other clinical (third- and fourth-year rotations, etc.) experiences in-person. Information about our innovative curricular model can be found on our Curriculum page.

Are the anatomy labs virtual?

No. Anatomy labs are held in our one-of-a kind lab that combines cadavers and virtual technology. Next to each cadaver table are large, wall-mounted touch screens that allow students to use 3D anatomy software, watch videos, and view images while learning in our lab. First and second-year students can utilize a supplementary, augmented reality (anatomy) program to prepare for their labs, but all required labs occur in our in-person, prosected cadaver lab. (Additionally, an elective dissection course is offered for second-year students interested in preparing select prosections.)

What is the grading system?

Students in their first and second year(s) receive letter grades for core courses, resulting in a cumulative GPA after each semester. Students in their clinical years (third and fourth years) receive “Honors”, “High Pass”, “Pass”, or “Fail” for each core clinical rotation.

Our assessment system is designed to give students individualized, meaningful feedback about their progress on a weekly basis. Students complete board preparatory-style questions every week. Each board prep question is accompanied by a complete explanation of the correct and incorrect answers so that students can move forward with greater understanding. Assessment gathers data from student responses to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Individualized data about the topic, organ system (e.g., cardiovascular system), and discipline (e.g., pharmacology) from practice questions, midterms, and finals is provided to each first and second-year student. Students can use their assessment results to change their studying focus or bring this information to a Learning Services Specialist or free peer tutor for additional assistance.

Clinical Education and Rotations

What clinical experiences will I have before my 3rd and 4th year rotations?

Noorda-COM students will have a variety of clinical experiences before traditional rotations in their third and fourth year. These experiences include:

First year (second semester)

  • Volunteering at community health events to provide vision, hearing, and blood glucose and blood pressure checks
  • Participating in graded OSCEs (objective structured clinical examinations). These immersive experiences mimic a clinic-style visit and require students to interact with a patient actor, offer a diagnosis, and create a treatment plan.

Second year:

  • Volunteering at community health events to provide vision, hearing, and blood glucose and blood pressure checks
  • Participating in OSCEs that increase in academic expectations
  • Providing care (under faculty supervision) to underserved populations at the United Way’s Volunteer Care Clinic in Provo
  • Offering comprehensive health screenings to Provo elementary-aged children through Noorda-COM’s “Kaufusi’s Keikis” health outreach program
  • Attending multiple interprofessional education events that incorporate clinical experiences in collaboration with healthcare students from local colleges and universities

Where will students complete their clinical rotations?

Students will complete third-year clinical rotations within the state of Utah, predominantly within northern Utah. (Third-year students interested in rural or out-of-state rotations can communicate their preferences with Clinical Education coordinators to obtain a rotation in their desired area.)

Fourth-year students are granted increased freedom and may complete their rotations anywhere in the country, to accommodate for audition rotations for specific residency programs.

Clinical Education coordinators can offer a variety of rotation options to students, including pre-identified preceptors or assistance in obtaining a rotation outside of current affiliation agreements.

Will I need to set up my own rotations?

No. Our Clinical Education Department works with local hospitals and clinics to arrange for required third-year student rotations. Students will receive their required rotation schedules in the spring of their second year and begin rotations the following summer.

Fourth-year students are granted increased freedom and may complete their rotations anywhere in the country, to accommodate for audition rotations for specific residency programs. Clinical Education coordinators can offer a variety of rotation options to students, including pre-identified preceptors or assistance in obtaining a rotation outside of current affiliation agreements.

Is Noorda-COM planning on starting new Residency programs?

There are numerous hospitals in Utah that may be able to create new or expand residency programs to accommodate more residents. In 2022, Noorda-COM played a crucial role in securing legislative funding from the State of Utah for the development of new residency programs in Utah. The Utah Medical Education Consortium reviews residency and fellowship program to help maximize the potential for new and expanded residencies and fellowships.

Noorda-COM maintains close relationships with legislators and healthcare leaders to advocate for ongoing legislation surrounding the expansion of medical education.