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Myths and Misconceptions – Match 2020

March 22, 2020

With a single GME system comes expanded training opportunities for DO and MD applicants—and many are anxiously awaiting this year’s 2020 NRMP® Main Match, which is fast approaching. DO applicants have done well in the Match, and match rates for DO applicants have continued to increase throughout the transition to single GME. Still, there are many myths and misconceptions that surround Match 2020, single GME, and the use of COMLEX-USA scores for DO applicants. Here are a few of them—and the facts:

ACGME residency programs don’t accept COMLEX-USA.
The ACGME does not require one licensing exam over another—passing either COMLEX-USA or USMLE meets that requirement. Eligibility for appointment into residency programs accredited by the ACGME requires applicants to be graduates of AOA or LCME-accredited medical schools. Bottom line: programs can accept both USMLE and COMLEX-USA scores. Single GME does not exclude DO applicants with COMLEX-USA scores from applying.

A program I want to apply to doesn’t accept COMLEX-USA.
Most residency programs accept COMLEX-USA for application to their programs. In fact, in specialties preferred by DO applicants, 82% of program directors surveyed by the NRMP say they use COMLEX-USA Level 1 scores to consider applicants for interviews. In some specialties, it’s even higher. Historically, Match rates for DO students have been really high, and the overall match rate for DOs has been close to 99%, in fact. Results for DO applicants in the NRMP Main Match have continually increased over time.

Hear what Ken Simons, MD, Senior Associate Dean for GME and Accreditation, the Designated Institutional Official at the Medical College of Wisconsin has to say about this issue:

I heard about a program that accepts COMLEX-USA, but the scores are hard to understand so they don’t use them to select applicants to interview.
Residency programs are great at a lot of things, but some programs may not be as familiar with COMLEX-USA scores or are simply misinformed. COMLEX-USA score reports provide valuable information on performance and are easy to understand. Program directors are provided convenient access to a COMLEX-USA percentile score converter through the ERAS platform and the NBOME website. NBOME provides resources and research to program directors on the predictive validity of the exam and how it can be used as part of a holistic review of candidates.

I heard if you do an ACGME residency, you have to take USMLE to get a license.
Not true. COMLEX-USA is accepted in all U.S. states (and in some international jurisdictions) for licensure for DOs. The Federation of State Medical Boards, the FSMB, accepts COMLEX-USA as valid. According to the FSMB, there is no requirement for DOs to take USMLE in order to obtain a license, in any state.

DOs need to take USMLE in addition to COMLEX-USA because its a requirement for certification by ABMS boards.
DOs and MDs completing ACGME-accredited residency programs can choose to become board certified by the AOA and/or the ABMS. DOs who train in ACGME-accredited residency programs, and who hold a current and unrestricted medical license are eligible to sit for AOA and/or ABMS certifying boards. The American Osteopathic Association has great information board certification through AOA boards–find out more here.