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85 Years of NBOME | Board of Directors Interviews

October 23, 2019

As we continue to reflect on our 85th anniversary, we discussed the most memorable achievements in the history of NBOME with our Board of Directors.


What would you identify as NBOME’s greatest accomplishment since its founding?

Richard LaBaere II, DO, MPH: NBOME’s greatest accomplishment lies in the establishment of the COMLEX-USA series and its reputation as a nationally and internationally recognized assessment tool that is valid, reliable and relevant to what osteopathic physicians do. The NBOME has been tireless in implementing best practices in test development and testing, has made research a priority, and has employed a forward-looking approach to improvement and service.

Gary Slick, DO, MA: NBOME’s greatest accomplishment to date is being recognized nationally and at the federal and state level as one of two accepted licensing agencies in the U.S.

John Thornburg, DO, PhD: There has been significant evolution and growth from the original small ‘mom and pop’ organization, with only a few full-time employees, to what it is today. NBOME and COMLEX-USA have had much to overcome over the years and they have done so with tremendous grace.


What are you most proud to have been a part of since becoming involved with the NBOME?

Richard LaBaere II, DO, MPH: I am most proud of our thoughtful and deliberate growth in both capacity and relevance in the assessment and services NBOME provides. The implementation and further development of COMAT, the launch of a new testing blueprint, and the opening of a new clinical skills testing center are just a few great examples of strategic growth which has helped us in fulfilling our mission to protect the public. NBOME has been a reliable, steadfast partner to many affiliated organizations as well, willing and able to help others move forward during turbulent times of change.

William Anderson, DO: One of the most significant accomplishments that I am glad to have been a part of is the high standards that NBOME set for the profession.

John Thornburg, DO, PhD: One of NBOME’s biggest accomplishments has been the recent adaptation of COMLEX-USA to a competency-based blueprint with the highest standards of quality, enhancing our esteemed status as the one-and-only osteopathic medical assessment for licensure.


What is the biggest challenge you have seen the NBOME face and overcome?

William Anderson, DO: The USMLE examination has long been recognized as the licensure exam that allows medical students to practice independently. As a result, NBOME and COMLEX-USA have faced a great deal of competition and challenge while working to establish a unique path for osteopathic medical licensure. The fact that NBOME was able to meet these challenges and emerge successful as an equivalent evaluation, speaks to the high standards of COMLEX-USA, and its appropriateness as a tool to measure and assess osteopathic medical knowledge.

John Thornburg, DO, PhD: Over the years, NBOME has faced many significant challenges and has worked tirelessly to gain respect and acceptance across the medical community and the general public. The quality of our assessment products has been key to our success, as well as NBOME’s efforts to strengthen relationships with our many stakeholders, particularly residency program directors, FSMB, NBME, AOA, AOE, and COM deans.


What is the most dramatic change you have seen during your tenure at the NBOME?

Richard LaBaere II, DO, MPH: In the years since I have become a part of the NBOME, I’ve noticed the incredible growth in the understanding of COMLEX-USA in the past decade alone; more and more know about COMLEX-USA and how it reflects the performance of those training in the osteopathic profession.

Gary Slick, DO, MA: Originally, the NBOME only had one examination: COMLEX-USA. In recent years, however, there has been an explosion in the number of assessments developed—from COMSAE, to COMAT, to CORRE. These new assessments have allowed new knowledge to be assessed and a larger number of stakeholders to take advantage of our examinations, including students, COMs, physicians, etc.

John Thornburg, DO, PhD: When I first became involved with the NBOME, there were ten COMs, some with class sizes of less than 100. The subsequent increase in the number of COMs and their class size has resulted in a huge increase in revenue, as well as the need for more NBOME staff to meet this demand.  While the COMLEX-USA series remains NBOME’s primary product, the role new assessment products has played is far beyond what could have been foreseen 10 years ago.


What comes next for NBOME? What are you most excited about?

Richard LaBaere II, DO, MPH: I am really excited about the development of new technology platforms like CATALYST to sustain and drive easy access and expedite ways to continue life-long learning. I am also excited about how we can use assessment data in novel ways to assist both students and residency program directors in achieving the very best match possible in graduate medical education, especially in light of the single accreditation system for graduate medical education in 2020.

William Anderson, DO: I anticipate NBOME’s next steps will be closely tied to the single accreditation system for graduate medical education and the ACGME, respectively. As the GME landscape changes, the osteopathic medical community will need to adapt alongside it, working to earn a place in the new ACGME system and position itself as an asset to the practice of medicine.



Richard J. LaBaere II, DO, MPH serves as the Secretary-Treasurer on the Board of Directors, chairs the Finance Committee and vice-chairs the COMLEX-USA Composite Examination Committee. Dr. LaBaere is currently the associate dean for postgraduate training, the osteopathic postdoctoral training institution academic officer and an adjunct clinical professor of family medicine at A.T. Still University–Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM) in Missouri. 


Gary L. Slick, DO, MA is Immediate Past Board Chair on the Board of Directors and member of the NBOME’s Compensation Subcommittee and Nominating Committee. Dr. Slick also currently serves as the designated institutional official of the graduate medical education residency and fellowship programs under sponsorship of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS).


John E. Thornburg, DO, PhD serves as a National Faculty Chair in Foundational Biomedical Sciences at NBOME. Dr. Thornburg also currently serves as Professor Emeritus in the  Pharmacy and Toxicology department at Michigan State University. In 2012, he was awarded the AOA’s Distinguished Service Certificate during AOA OMED.


William G. Anderson, DO, was an active member of the NBOME Board of Directors from 2003 through 2014 and was member of its Executive Committee from 2007 to 2010. Dr. Anderson is a professor of surgery and senior adviser to the dean at the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSU-COM). 



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