FAQ Regarding the NBOME COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE and Special Commission Announcement

We understand you may have some questions regarding our announcement to postpone the COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE indefinitely, and introduce temporary alternate pathways for the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2022, as well as long term solutions. We have endeavored to answer some of the anticipated questions below. We are still working through many of the details and will add more as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience as we assure the defensibility and feasibility of solutions, assuring that licensure will not be in jeopardy, and that patient safety remain foremost in our deliberations.

Please continue to check our website for our weekly updates on the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE and assessment of fundamental clinical skills moving forward.

If you have questions regarding COM graduation requirements, please check with your individual COM and see this information from COCA. Visit the ACGME’s website for information related to progression through GME.

Visit your individual state licensing boards for individual state licensing requirements, or the AOA for overview information related to state licensing requirements.

1. I am a 4th year OMS with an anticipated graduation date in 2021. I am scheduled for my Level 2 PE in June 2021. Can I cancel my examination?

As a member of the DO Class of 2021, you will no longer need to take this examination to become eligible for Level 3. The NBOME is working on a temporary pathway for the Class of 2021 (and earlier) to become eligible for Level 3, which will be announced by March 11, 2021. It will not require taking the COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE. The NBOME has updated our Portal to automatically cancel your examination, so you are unable to cancel directly on the Portal at this time. If you would like a refund prior to when we can cancel your exam, please complete the voucher form and we will process it on a first come-first served basis. See FAQ #8.

2. I am in the Class of 2022? What about our requirement?

The NBOME is currently exploring options for the evaluation of fundamental clinical skills currently measured in the COMLEX-USA Level 2- PE. This examination is used for licensure as part of the COMLEX-USA series, and is a specific requirement in some states. Other states require a national clinical skills exam or an OMT performance test, a requirement met by Level 2-PE. With all of this in mind, we will consider any alternate pathways carefully to ensure any changes to the program do not impact your progression through to residency and licensure, provided you can demonstrate essential competencies. In addition, COMLEX-USA has had important secondary uses in undergraduate medical education and residency selection. We want to be sensitive to these and be sure any changes to the program do not become obstacles to your progression through to residency and licensure. More information will be provided within the coming weeks. NBOME will be cancelling all Level 2-PE examinations at this time, and providing refunds as noted in FAQ 8.

3. What should I do if I have already scheduled my Level 2-PE exam?

If you are in the Class of 2021 or 2020, you are safe to cancel. See also FAQ # 8 for how to do this. Portal has been updated and you will currently not be able to cancel from Portal. Please keep an eye on our website for developments on what your alternative pathway will look like. NBOME recommends that residents take Level 3 after completion of at least 6 months of residency training. In recent years most residents have been taking Level 3 later in their first year of residency or in year two, so you have time to plan that out.

If you are in the Class of 2022, note that we are cancelling all scheduled Level–PE examinations. The Special Commission will be addressing this issue and by April 30 we will provide more information on what your options will be to demonstrate your fundamental competencies moving forward.

4. Does this mean that the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE be discontinued forever?

Our immediate need was to address the possible resumption date of the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE (which had been targeted for April 1) for the Class of 2021 and members of previous classes who had pressing needs. We are now considering numerous options for future ways to evaluate the important competencies covered by COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE. Over the next 8-12 weeks, a Special Commission will be determining how this temporary, alternate pathway will be accomplished and what options may be available for the Class of 2022. Moving forward, the Special Commission will address how we will provide these assessments, and regular updates will be provided.

5. What is the Special Commission? Who is on it?

We are convening a Special Commission on Osteopathic Medical Licensure Assessment to study innovative ways of evaluating the competencies currently covered by COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE, as well as some other competencies and the overall COMLEX-USA examination program. The Special Commission’s work will also identify new ways to evaluate fundamental competencies currently assessed in the Level 2-PE moving forward. This will include a full review of the COMLEX-USA program, to ensure it continues to provide a pathway to osteopathic practice and licensure in a defensible manner. The Special Commission will include members from across the UME-GME-Licensure continuum, including student representatives and public members/patient representatives. This work will occur in two phases:

  • Phase 1 will address issues for the Class of 2021 and earlier, and then the Class of 2022 as outlined in the February 11, 2021 announcement. It will include structured feedback opportunities from all stakeholders, from students to educators to licensing authorities to professional organizations, and public members/patient representatives.
  • Phase 2 will focus on long-term solutions to assess competencies for osteopathic medicine in the COMLEX-USA program, with an eye on our collective duty to protect the public and our patients.
6. What if I have already taken the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE?

The method of testing may have been postponed, but the competencies that need to be evaluated are still just as important and will still be evaluated in a method that best fits with the changing world in which we find ourselves. If you have passed Level 2-PE, with the other requirements including graduation and eventual attestation by your residency program director, you will establish eligibility for COMLEX-USA Level 3. However, if you have not passed, alternate pathways for the Class of 2021 (and earlier) and the Class of 2022 will be provided. We feel these fundamental competencies are important to the profession and the public, and the suspension of the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE is not a reflection on that. The COMLEX-USA has made contributions to the quality of care patients receive by influencing the emphasis placed on developing critical competencies, including interpersonal and patient-centered communication skills, history taking, hands-on physical examination skills, integration of OPP, OMM and OMT, clinical problem-solving and documentation, and others. These skills, outlined in competency domain definitions and entrustable professional activities described by numerous consensus authorities across the profession, remain critically important to high quality care and patient safety, and we all hope that any alternate pathways secure this for our patients and our profession.

7. What if I took the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE and failed?

Opportunities to demonstrate your fundamental competencies will be clarified for the Class of 2021 (and earlier) by March 11, 2021. For the Class of 2022, all details will be released by April 30, 2021. We are also considering annotation of transcripts noting exam suspensions and pandemic limitations.

8. How do I get a refund for a cancelled examination?

Refunds will be processed as expeditiously as possible given the thousands of students who will need their cancelled examinations refunded. We have temporarily closed the PE scheduling on the NBOME Portal which allowed us to update the functionality. This will also prevent for our portal from crashing for other users who are accessing other important information (accessing score reports, preparing for other assessments, etc).

You have two options:

  1. 1. We have begun canceling Level 2-PE sessions. Your fee will be automatically refunded to your original payment method. If the payment method is no longer valid, a member of our team will follow up with you via the email within your Portal account.
  2. You may request a refund by completing this form and emailing our Client Services team, but these requests will be processed on a first come, first served basis and may take up to several weeks due to higher than usual volume of requests. Therefore, our recommendation is to wait for our staff to cancel your exam as noted in option 1 above.
  3. If you currently have a voucher for a PE examination, you must be manually request a refund as noted in #2 above.
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