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  • sdadmin
    February 21, 2019 at 3:09 pm #2342
    1. WHEREAS, a passing score on COMLEX Level 1 is required of all osteopathic medical students to
    2. graduate; and
    3. WHEREAS, exam score on COMLEX Level 1 and USMLE Step 1 is used as an impactful criterion for
    4. acceptance into residency programs1; and
    5. WHEREAS, as of 2020, the ACGME and the AOA are forming the single graduate medical education
    6. (GME) accreditation systems (SAS)2; and
    7. WHEREAS, Resolution 955 “Equality for COMLEX and USMLE” from the AMA assures the AMA
    8. will promote equal acceptance for COMLEX and USMLE from accredited ACGME residency
    9. programs; and
    10. WHEREAS, the implementation of the single graduate medical education accreditation system puts
    11. osteopathic medical students in the same applicant pool as allopathic medical students; and
    12. WHEREAS, osteopathic medical students may feel pressure to take both COMLEX Level 1 and
    13. USMLE Step 1 to be competitive residency applicants3; and
    14. WHEREAS, as reported in Academic Emergency Medicine, COMLEX Level 1 and USMLE Step 1
    15. scores are not interchangeable4; and
    16. WHEREAS, existing formulas for COMLEX Level 1 score conversion to USMLE Step 1 scores are
    17. inaccuate, and leave COMLEX interpretation non-standardized5; and
    18. WHEREAS, training of allopathic residency directors for interpretation of COMLEX Level 1 scores as
    19. outlined from Resolution 955 “Equality for COMLEX and USMLE” from the AMA, may not be
    20. sufficient; now, therefore, be it
    21. RESOLVED, that SOMA lobby to the AOA to encourage the NBOME to create a similar scoring
    22. format for COMLEX Level 1 that follows USMLE Step 1.
    23. Explanatory Statement
    24. The creation of a new scoring format for COMLEX Level 1 following USMLE Step 1 is intended to
    25. alleviate any discrepancy about score interpretation by all residency directors.


    1. Vora, Aditya, et al. “Predictors of Scoring at Least 600 on COMLEX-USA Level 1: Successful Preparation Strategies.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 113, no. 2, 2013, p. 164., doi:10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.2.164.
    2. “Single GME Accreditation System.” ACGME, http://www.acgme.org/What-We-Do/Accreditation/Single-GME-Accreditation-System/GraduateMedicalEducation/SingleAccreditationSystemforAOAApprovedPrograms.
    3. Hasty, R. T., Snyder, S., Suciu, G. P., & Moskow, J. M. (2012). Graduating Osteopathic MedicalStudents’ Perceptions and Recommendations on the Decision to Take the United States MedicalLicensing Examination. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 112(2), 83–89. https://doi.org/10.7556/JAOA.2012.112.2.83
    4. Sarko, John, et al. “COMLEX-1 and USMLE-1 Are Not Interchangeable Examinations.” Academic Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 2, 2010, pp. 218–220., doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2009.00632.x.
    5. Parikh, S. P., & Shiembob, C. A. (2010). New COMLEX-USA-to-USMLE Conversion Formula Needed. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 110(7), 400–401.https://doi.org/10.7556/JAOA.2010.110.7.400

    Submitted by:
    Marisa DeSanto, OMSII – Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine – Athens
    Brylie Schafer, OMSII – University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine – Athens

    Action Taken:

    Effective Time Period:

  1. Daniel Sunderland
    LECOM at Seton Hill
    February 22, 2019 at 11:18 am #2404

    I disagree with this resolution because it inherently supports the idea that two tests are necessary going forward, despite the Match merger. Having two tests puts significant financial and academic burdens on DO students which simply do not exist for our MD counterparts. Though AMA recently declared COMLEX and USMLE equivalent, it is unrealistic to expect program directors to change decades-long and scientifically documented discrimination against COMLEX scores within the next few years. Every year where this discrimination exists is another class-year of DO students who face unfair burdens. This is why there should be one test for all medical students with an osteopathic supplement for DO programs. Making COMLEX and USMLE more similar will not remove the extra burdens of taking two tests, nor decrease the anti-COMLEX bias instantly.

    • Marisa DeSanto
      Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine - Athens
      February 26, 2019 at 7:01 am #2421

      Hi Daniel, you make an important point that there is definitely still discrimination that exists with COMLEX vs. USMLE in some residency programs, and it is difficult to alleviate through making score conversions/increasing education/changing parts of COMLEX. Brylie (the other co-author of this resolution) and I had discussed writing a resolution just as you said: removing COMLEX and having everyone take USMLE + an OMM exam, but after talking to faculty at our school who understood COMLEX and have worked with the AOA, we learned that it wouldn’t be well accepted by the osteopathic community and wouldn’t represent COMLEX. Since COMLEX has osteopathic principles included in most questions and is not just an added section on the exam, switching over to USMLE technically wouldn’t be a test that is appropriate to our education, though I fully agree with you that it would alleviate a lot of discrepancy by only taking USMLE. After the AMA established equality with the two exams, our goal was to make the scoring system the same as USMLE to make COMLEX easier to interpret and remove the need for score conversions (that are often inaccurate). We think this can put us in the right direction to have both exams equally valued in residency applications while COMLEX is still the exam we are required to take for graduation.

      LECOM at Seton Hill
      March 2, 2019 at 10:09 am #2428

      Hi Marisa, thank you for your response. I appreciate your efforts in drafting this resolution. I can definitely see how there would be push-back from the osteopathic community as a whole and, since I am studying for both exams now, I understand how the two exams structure/approach themselves differently. However, as far as osteopathic medicine goes in terms of differentiating itself from allopathic medicine, I disagree with the notion that the exams are dissimilar enough (minus the overt osteopathic questions, of course) to warrant their continuing independent existence. Considering that the two exams are designed to cover the same material to train us to see the same patients in the same disciplines (except OMM), the differences in where they put their emphasis seems inconsequential in the long run. Holding onto these differences in the long run only does a disservice to students.