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85 Years of NBOME | Staff & Collaborator Perspectives Part 1

October 7, 2019

Beyond the NBOME board, executive leadership, and National Faculty, there are dozens of staff members and collaborators helping us protect the public in their roles behind the scenes. To commemorate our anniversary, we turned to some NBOME insiders for their insights at the work and the culture that’s brought us to where we are today.



Senior Operations Specialist, Shirley Bodett has been with us longer than any other staff member. In her 34 years with us, she’s witnessed many of the changes that have shaped the modern day NBOME.



NBOME: What was happening with the organization when you started?

When I was hired in 1984, there were only two other employees – an Executive Director, Carl W. Cohoon and his assistant Carol Thoma. I was hired to answer phones and do clerical work.

To create exams (one for each discipline), the discipline chair would look through coded cards and select test items based on categories. The staff would then use a word processor and floppy discs to put these questions into a two-column document. This was then sent to a printer, who published the exam books.

Exam scoring was contracted out to the University of Iowa, where score reports were printed and sent to us in triplicate for distribution. We entered candidate names into huge black books by hand, in alphabetical order, by school and graduating class. Later, we entered each candidate’s scores into that same book. When transcripts were ordered, we again opened these books to find the information needed to complete the transcript.

What were some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the organization?

Computerization has completely changed how we do nearly everything. We’ve brought a lot of our processes in-house, and our vastly expanded staff is much more involved in item creation, editing, and review.

What is your fondest memory of your time with the NBOME?

Working with some of the same people for many years, and getting to know physicians Board members, other Subject Matter Experts, and staff as individuals rather than as defined by their profession.


A lifelong advocate for Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), Dr. Dennis J. Dowling, DO, FAAO, our Coordinator for OMM Assessment began working with the NBOME 26 years ago. His work has been instrumental in launching our COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE.



When did you begin working with the NBOME?

I started in the early 90s after becoming a faculty member at NYCOM. One of my professors, Robert E Mancini, PhD, DO was a pharmacologist who became an osteopathic physician as well as a former NBOME president. Dr. Mancini got me involved with a task force he had put together to integrate Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) with other questions.


What were some of the biggest changes in your time here?

In 1997 I expressed an interest in the examination of osteopathic manipulative skills and utilizing scoring rubrics to better reflect the process. We came to a major crossroads in the early 2000s that could have easily led to DO students taking a generic test for all medical students, with a tacked on OMT station or two, and no other osteopathic distinctions. But thanks to our work at the time, we now have a fully integrated osteopathic examination that is a much more effective way of testing osteopathic students preparing to enter postgraduate training.

How has technology changed in terms of how we operate?

Technology expands the ability to create much more material and develop alternate processes of testing. It also opens up to greater security risks than ever before. We have to keep up with advancing technology and capabilities, while meeting the needs of the population that we are examining.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the NBOME?

There’s a camaraderie and a sense of purpose that permeates everything we do. We are truly trying to develop the best product for protecting the public and enhancing osteopathic medicine. Without the strength of the NBOME, osteopathic medicine would be a very different and much less effectual profession than exists today.



Next week we’ll catch up with former NBOME General Counsel, Sydney Steele, 2019 NBOME President’s Award winner Yi Wang, and Coordinator of Operations, Rachel Maxwell for their perspectives on 85 years of NBOME.


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