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Osteopathic Medicine Advances Down Under

October 1, 2020

Fantastic news to share with US-educated doctors of osteopathic medicine who are interested in practicing in Australia — The Medical Board of Australia just established a new registration pathway for DOs, recognizing the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) as a competent authority. This means that US DO graduates who have successfully completed the NBOME’s COMLEX-USA examination series since 2005, and have also completed two years of an ACGME- or AOA-accredited residency program will be qualified for provisional registration. “Registration” is the term used in numerous other countries for what we refer to as “medical licensure” in the United States.”

According to the Medical Board of Australia, until recently, doctors who had been awarded the DO degree in the United States were eligible only for limited registration in Australia. The new pathway streamlines the registration process and enables US DOs to be granted general registration after 12 months of supervised practice in Australia. In Australia, “DO USA” refers to physicians with a degree in osteopathic medicine to avoid confusion amongst patients with other types of health practitioners who hold qualifications in osteopathy.

The NBOME is the first international authority to receive competent authority for medical licensure in Australia in 15 years. The evaluation by the Medical Board of Australia included a robust and comprehensive review of the COMLEX-USA examination series, the licensure examination for DOs in the USA. COMLEX-USA Levels 1 and 2 (which includes a clinical skills evaluation) are also required by the American Osteopathic Association–Commission for Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOA-COCA) for graduation from a college of osteopathic medicine. The NBOME provided extensive documentation demonstrating adherence to quality assurance standards for validity, reliability, defensibility, and fairness to assess whether the COMLEX-USA examination program’s processes result in physicians who have the knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes necessary to practice in the medical profession in Australia.

“Registration in Australia is all about safety to practice,” shared Dr. Anne Tonkin, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia, “We have streamlined our process and continue to welcome DO USA graduates so they can contribute to our profession and our community.”

The news was especially welcome to Nayla Boulad, DO, who submitted her application under the new pathway as soon as it was available and is eager to be able to practice osteopathic medicine in her new home in Australia. After completing her residency training in Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington this summer, Dr. Boulad relocated to Perth, Australia to be nearer to her husband’s family, “I was literally working on my application when I got this fantastic news. I cannot believe the timing, this is so great!” she shared.

Prior to the Board’s recognition of the NBOME and COMLEX-USA, Dr. Boulad was preparing to complete the standard pathway application, a process that entailed extensive requirements, including completing another residency in Australia and taking other medical licensing examinations “In a time where travel and immigration is severely curtailed due to COVID-19, Australia faces a shortage of doctors and I am happy to have the opportunity to start working to fill those gaps. I am looking forward to continuing my learning and training here with hopes to be able to share what I learn with my peers back in the US.”

NBOME President and CEO, John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd, commented on the significant achievement and milestone for US DOs, NBOME’s COMLEX-USA examination program, and (former) AOA-accredited residency programs, now accredited by the ACGME. “Australia joins all United States medical licensing boards in entrusting NBOME’s COMLEX-USA program in the medical licensing process, on the merits of the evidence and the rigor of the exam program,” said Dr. Gimpel, “This is exciting news for DOs, the osteopathic medical profession, and the patients and communities of Australia. A special thanks to the AOA, the Australian Medical Council, the Medical Board of Australia, and all across the profession in the US and Australia who collaborated for more than a decade to make this a reality.”