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Osteopathic medical community urges further discussion and understanding about distinctive licensure assessment of DO and MD students

June 30, 2022

A joint statement from AACOM, AAOE, AOA, and NBOME

As leaders of the osteopathic medical education and osteopathic medical communities in the United States, we acknowledge and empathize with trainees who often encounter bias in transition to residency, such as requests for DO students to take USMLE in addition to COMLEX-USA in the residency application process.

Osteopathic medical students, who currently represent 25 percent of graduating physicians in the United States, have good reason to be frustrated. We are united in support of osteopathic medical students and the value of distinctive osteopathic credentials for licensure, residency program application, and board certification, including COMLEX-USA for licensure and residency selection.

Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates adopted a resolution supporting the creation of a single licensing exam for both DO and MD students, with a separate, additional osteopathic-specific test for osteopathic medical students.

While we agree that all students should only be required to undergo one licensing examination process, this solution fails to address important differences in education and training between the two models of education and the integration of osteopathic principles and practices throughout COMLEX-USA examination blueprints. These distinct pathways of education have been embraced, not disputed, and are reflected by separate licensure assessment pathways for DOs and MDs.

The osteopathic medical profession’s responsibility for self-regulation and verification of competency is essential to the value of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree (DO). The COCA-accreditation of colleges of osteopathic medicine and the COMLEX-USA series of examinations validate both our osteopathic educational pathway to licensure and the practice of osteopathic medicine. All 50 states and other jurisdictions recognize the COMLEX-USA licensure examination process for osteopathic physicians to practice medicine.

We recognize the need to identify, develop, and rapidly implement a comprehensive solution that is in the best interest of our students. Therefore, we highly encourage healthy and constructive dialogue with key stakeholders regarding solutions that mitigate if not obviate the need for any DO or MD student to be examined by two pathways to remain competitive during the residency selection process. This dialogue should also focus on other opportunities to address the broader concerns about bias.

We are proud of the success of our osteopathic graduates. Osteopathic medical students continue to excel in the NRMP Main Residency Match as well as subspecialty fellowship matches, which inevitably give them the greatest opportunity to deliver distinctive, high-quality osteopathic medical care around the world.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) was founded in 1898 to lend support and assistance to the nation’s osteopathic medical schools, and to serve as a unifying voice for osteopathic medical education. The organization represents the administration, faculty, and students of all osteopathic medical colleges in the United States and is actively involved in all areas of osteopathic medical education, including graduate medical education. Visit AACOM.org for more information or ChooseDO.org for information about applying to osteopathic medical school.

About AAOE
The American Association of Osteopathic Examiners is the organization that represents all osteopathic physicians who sit on state medical licensing and disciplinary boards. It supports the distinctiveness and integrity of osteopathic medical licensure and is the unified authority in matters that affect osteopathic medical licensure and discipline in the United States.

About AOA
The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) represents more than 168,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs) and osteopathic medical students, promotes public health, encourages scientific research, and serves as the primary certifying body (specialty board certification) for DOs. To learn more about DOs and the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, visit Osteopathic.org.

The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) is an independent, nongovernmental, nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect the public by providing the means to assess competencies for osteopathic medicine and related health care professions. The NBOME develops and administers a number of osteopathically distinct examinations, most notably the COMLEX-USA (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States), which is accepted for medical licensure in all 50 of the United States and other licensing jurisdictions. Visit NBOME.org for more information.

Media Contact:
Renee Cree, Director for Communications, NBOME
866-479-6828 x5307