of Commitment to Quality Health Care


85 years ago, the NBOME was founded with the overall goal of providing the means to assess competencies for osteopathic medicine and related health care professionals. We are proud of how far we’ve come on this incredible journey, and while we remain firmly committed to our historic roots, we look optimistically ahead to what the future holds.

To celebrate our 85th anniversary, the NBOME is taking you back in time. Throughout the year we'll be posting pieces of NBOME history, from the momentous events that shaped our organization, to the characters who led us through the years. You can look out for #ByTheDecades on our social media channels for teasers and trivia, and find the full stories here.



Meet Frederick G. Meoli, DO

Frederick G. Meoli, DO, a New York City native, received his degree from the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery in 1968 and completed his residency in general surgery at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. A board-certified surgeon, he taught at both the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Meoli became a NBOME board member in 1988, serving at every level within the organization, including as president 1999-2001. In 2002, the NBOME was reorganized, and Dr. Meoli became its first full-time president and CEO, a position he held until his retirement in 2009. In 2014, the President’s Award was created in his honor, to be awarded to the NBOME employee recognized for most outstanding service to the organization.


What's In a Name?

In the summer of 1993, a large group of academicians and practicing physicians representing a variety of specialties met to discuss a way to evaluate the ability to use information wisely in a clinical setting. The licensing examination, they thought, should mirror the setting where diagnosis and management decisions on patient care were made, taking into account the context of the reallife demands of physicians and surgeons, including costs and ethics. There was agreement among the participants that the new examination should test “a comprehensive style of medicine that emphasizes how the structural harmony of the body affects efforts to prevent and treat illness.” It should emphasize primary care medicine and osteopathic principles and practice throughout, and it should emphasize lifelong learning. This was a new concept in testing, to test the process of education rather than simply the result, and it took years to develop into the full COMLEX-USA examinations. Level 3 debuted in 1995, Level 2-CE in 1997, and Level 1 in 1998.


What's In a Name?

Prior to 1900, there was no regulation or licensure of physicians in the United States. After 1920, states began to create medical practice acts and individual state examinations for medical licensure. It was in this milieu that, in 1934, men of like mind had the vision to recognize the need to create an examination sequence to evaluate the physician’s knowledge, skill and behavioral sets to competently practice osteopathic medicine. They established the National Board of Examiners for Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons which sought to create a universal examination with high standards acceptable to all jurisdictions and to the osteopathic medical profession. In 1986, the organization reincorporated in Indiana as the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. (NBOME).


Meet Thomas Santucci, Jr., DO

Thomas F. Santucci, Jr., DO, received the Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, practiced in New Jersey, and served on the National Board for the NBEOPS. Dr. Santucci, Jr., received his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and became nationally recognized as an outstanding pediatric pulmonologist. He was Board president from 1985 to 1987 and is credited with bringing new energy to the board, modernizing its structure and attitude, and changing the discipline-based test to a more clinically based test. In 2009, NBOME instituted the Santucci Award, our highest honor, awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves with sustained outstanding contributions.


What school requested that we provide examinations for all their students?

The Chicago College of Osteopathy and the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines both requested that we administer our exams to all their students in 1963. This signified the beginning of a closer relationship between the NBEOPS (now NBOME) and the colleges of osteopathic medicine.


When did our exams change from open-ended questions to multiple-choice?

At our July 1958 Board of Directors meeting, it was decided that multiple-choice examinations were the most effective way of evaluating candidates for osteopathic medical licensure. Essay questions, while useful, had become outdated and virtually impossible to grade with a standardized score.


When did we begin including real-life patients as part of their examinations?

T. T. Spence, DO, served as president of NBEOPS from 1944 to 1948. During his tenure, in 1947, live patients in osteopathic hospitals were used for Part III examinations. Osteopathic hospitals had been built throughout the nation to keep pace with the growing profession beginning in the late nineteenth century. By 1945, there were 260 such hospitals.


Meet Margaret Barnes, DO!

First Person to take an NBOME Examination

Twenty-eight-year-old Margaret Barnes, DO, a graduate of Wellesley College and the American School of Osteopathy, was the very first person (not to mention, woman) to take the examination in 1936. She passed with high marks. A dedicated member of the Academy of Applied Osteopathy (now the American Academy of Osteopathy) (AAO), Dr. Barnes served as the AAO editor of their yearbook of selected osteopathic papers from 1956-1974. She later wrote the first AAO history, “History of the Academy of Applied Osteopathy” as well as “A Fortieth Anniversary Memoir”, both published in the American Osteopathic Association’s The DO in 1972 and 1978 respectively.


Meet Charles Hazzard, DO!

First President of the NBOME

A native of Peoria, Illinois, Charles Hazzard, DO, graduated from Northwestern University and enrolled in the first class at American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville in 1892. He was the author of the widely used The Principles of Osteopathy and The Practice of Osteopathy. Hazzard was elected president of the American Osteopathic Association in 1903, the same year he moved to New York to begin a private practice. For many years he was treasurer of the A.T. Still Research Institute. In 1934 he was named the first president of the National Board of Examiners for Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (NBEOPS).


Meet Asa Willard, DO!

Co-founder of the NBOME

Asa Willard, DO, was born in Frederick County, Maryland. After attending Missouri State Normal School (now Truman State University) in Kirksville, he entered the American School of Osteopathy, where he was taught directly by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. After graduating in 1900, he opened his own practice where his chief role was that of gadfly and tireless promoter of full rights for osteopathic physicians. His columns in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association were written in a folksy style with an incisive intellect that feasted on statistics and political machinations (he didn’t know how to be dull). Founder of the National Board of Examiners for Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in 1934, he was its first secretary-treasurer.


Check back as we add more to our timeline in the coming weeks!