mauricekenter

7+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2010
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Round Rock, TX
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Attending Physician
Hey guys here is my situation.

-I am a D.O. 4th year medical student applying for only M.D. Residencies
-I took both USMLE Step 1-2 and COMLEX Step 1-2 and PE
-I already signed up for the USMLE CS (errrr) and now know I don't need it

So since I cannot get a refund, I am wondering about taking both board exams all the way through Step 3. Here is my understanding:

If I don't take anymore USMLE steps, finish the COMLEX Step 3, and I complete my Allopathic residency in the specialty I choose, I will be forever board certified by the AOA as well as licensed by the AOA because I am an Osteopath.

If I take both the USMLE and COMLEX steps all the way through, will I be board certified by the AMA and AOA after completing my allopathic residency and still only licensed by the AOA?

I get confused is the term licensure vs board certification. I believe that board certification has to do with the medical specialty you choose and licensure has to do with what type of doctor you are, DO vs MD. Is this correct?

So I guess to sum it all up:
As a D.O., even if I take both USMLE and COMLEX step 1-3 it will not change my licensure, but it will change my board certification. Is this correct?

Thanks for the help!
 

p30doc

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10+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2007
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To be board certified you need to meet the requirements of the certifying board which always includes taking a board certification test at the end of your residency. This is optional, you don't need to do this to practice your specialty. If you become board certified in your field you get extra letters behind your name, and possibly more job opportunities even maybe greater pay. Some hospitals/groups will only hire you if you are board certified.

Now to be board certified by the allopathic board in addition to a test i think one of the requirements is that you complete an allopathic residency. I have no idea what the requirements are regarding comlex 1,2,3 vs usmle 1,2,3 though.

Edit: here are the requirements listed for internal med board certification:
allopathic: http://www.abim.org/certification/

osteopathic: http://www.acoi.org/CertGen.html

a very quick glance and I didn't see anything about step 1-3 mentioned under either, it seems to deal more with your residency program
 
Last edited:

group_theory

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Hey guys here is my situation.

-I am a D.O. 4th year medical student applying for only M.D. Residencies
-I took both USMLE Step 1-2 and COMLEX Step 1-2 and PE
-I already signed up for the USMLE CS (errrr) and now know I don't need it

So since I cannot get a refund, I am wondering about taking both board exams all the way through Step 3. Here is my understanding:

If I don't take anymore USMLE steps, finish the COMLEX Step 3, and I complete my Allopathic residency in the specialty I choose, I will be forever board certified by the AOA as well as licensed by the AOA because I am an Osteopath.

If I take both the USMLE and COMLEX steps all the way through, will I be board certified by the AMA and AOA after completing my allopathic residency and still only licensed by the AOA?

I get confused is the term licensure vs board certification. I believe that board certification has to do with the medical specialty you choose and licensure has to do with what type of doctor you are, DO vs MD. Is this correct?

So I guess to sum it all up:
As a D.O., even if I take both USMLE and COMLEX step 1-3 it will not change my licensure, but it will change my board certification. Is this correct?

Thanks for the help!
It's confusing when we used "boards" on SDN. For premeds and medical students, when the term "boards" is used, usually it is in reference to COMLEX or USMLE. For residents, fellows, attendings, insurance companies, hospitals, boards refer to the Specialty Boards.

When doctors say they are "board certified", they are referring to the specialty boards.

There are two types of specialty boards - boards recognized/operated by the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) and boards recognized/operated by the AOA. ABMS Boards are American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), American Board of Surgery (ABS), American Board of Radiology, etc. The AOA Boards are American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM), American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (AOBP), etc.

Wheter you are boarded by by ABMS or by the AOA depends entirely on which organization and board certification exams you take. Each boards have their own criteria for admission.

For example, if you do an ACGME Internal Medicine residency, you can take the ABIM. You are not eligible to take the AOBIM because you did not complete a AOA residency in Internal Medicine. (if you really want to take the osteopathic internal medicine board, you will have to petition the AOA to recognize your ACGME IM residency as AOA-equivalent via Resolution 56). Similarly, if you did an AOA IM residency, you cannot take the ABIM. Each boards have their own eligibility criteria and some may recognize your AOA or ACGME residency.

So you are "boarded" based on the specialty board organization. Noticed how COMLEX or USMLE does not factor at all.




Now to licensing exams (the other "boards")

Licensing exams are mainly used to determine eligibility in getting a medical license. Secondary purpose may be used for residency/fellowship selection. In addition, in order to graduate from a AOA accredited school, you need to pass COMLEX 1, and both parts of COMLEX 2. USMLE is optional.

When it comes to licensing, passing all 3 steps of COMLEX will enable you to obtain unrestricted license in all 50 States. If you don't finish the COMLEX series (if you don't take Step 3), but you finish out the USMLE Series (all 3 steps), you can obtain an unrestricted license in most states, but not ALL. There are certain states that require DOs to use the COMLEX/NBOME and will not recognize USMLE for licensing purpose. Those states are: California. Tennessee, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida, and Vermont.

In addition, some states will require the PGY1 year be AOA-approved (either by completing an osteopathic intern year or having the AOA recognized your ACGME PGY1 year as AOA-equivalent via Resolution 42)




So if you end up doing an ACGME residency, you will take the ABMS specialty board in your field, and will be "board-certified" through that board. If you really want to be board certified by an osteopathic board, you will have to apply via Resolution 56 to have your ACGME residency recognized as AOA-equivalent, then apply to the osteopathic specialty board for permission to take their certification exam. Whether you complete USMLE or COMLEX does not matter.

If you finish out the COMLEX series (all 3 steps), you can get licensed in all 50 states (as long as you meet all other criterias as each states have their own unique criterias). If you finish out the USMLE series (all 3 steps) but not COMLEX, then you are eligible to get licensed in most but not all states. If you decide to finish out both exams (COMLEX and USMLE), good for you but I don't see any potential benefits to having completed both exams.
 
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mauricekenter

mauricekenter

7+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2010
78
35
Round Rock, TX
Status
Attending Physician
Wow, great replies both of you guys! Thank you so much for the information. So basically I'm out $1,000 and no reason to take the USMLE CS and I definitely understand what board certification means as well as what the licensing exams are all about.

Thanks again!!
 

newbie04

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Aug 16, 2004
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If you finish out the COMLEX series (all 3 steps), you can get licensed in all 50 states (as long as you meet all other criterias as each states have their own unique criterias). If you finish out the USMLE series (all 3 steps) but not COMLEX, then you are eligible to get licensed in most but not all states. If you decide to finish out both exams (COMLEX and USMLE), good for you but I don't see any potential benefits to having completed both exams.
Will completing the USMLE 1/2(CS/CK)/3 series allow an Osteopathic graduate to forego AOA CMEs or do CMEs ultimately fall under Specialty Board (DO or MD) certification?
 

group_theory

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Will completing the USMLE 1/2(CS/CK)/3 series allow an Osteopathic graduate to forego AOA CMEs or do CMEs ultimately fall under Specialty Board (DO or MD) certification?
No. CME requirements for re-licensure depends entirely on each state licensing board (and the laws/regulations of that state).

Some states don't have CME requirements. Others have minimal. Others are more extensive. Some states require DOs to have AOA CMEs, and require a minimum of AOA 1A CME credits for re-licensure. As far as I know, there are no exception towards the AOA CME requirements (for re-licensure) if you get licensed via USMLE in lieu of COMLEX.

You have to check each individual states to see what their requirements are.

Example - California Osteopathic Board require 150 hrs of CME in a 3-year time span, a minimum of 60 hrs have to be AOA 1A credits. California Osteopathic Board does not recognize USMLE for licensure. (*there are more requirements, please check the specific state's requirements)

Colorado doesn't have any CME requirements.

Delaware requires 40 hrs in a 2-year time period with no specific AOA CME requirements. (all 40 hrs must be category 1)

Now if you are a member of the AOA, you must obtain a certain minimum number of AOA CME credits to maintain membership. For the 2010-2012 cycle, that requirement is 120 hrs, of which a minimum of 30 hrs must be Category 1A.

Why is this important? Because if you are board certify via an AOA specialty board, a requirement to maintain board certification (and to renew board certification) is to maintain AOA membership in good standing. If you stop paying your AOA dues, or you don't meet the minimum CME requirements set by the AOA, you can lose your AOA membership, and by default, lose your board certification.