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Discussion in 'Medical Students - DO' started by Moghal, Aug 10, 1999.

  1. Moghal

    Moghal Junior Member

    Jun 24, 1999
    Newport News, VA
    Hello Everyone,
    I have really enjoyed and benefitted from the correspondence on this site. I have some basic questions, I mean REALLY basic....What are the boards that DO students take? I have seen them referred to COMPLEX or COMLEX. Which one is it, and what is the abbreviatoin for? Is there a big difference between this exam and the boards for allopathic students? Do some take both and what would be the benefit?
    After reading some of the posts on this site, I have found that I am lacking much of the basic info concerning the boards, what they are about, when they are given, and what the choices are, etc. I would appreciate some info from those of you more knowledgable.

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  3. Doc777

    Doc777 Junior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 9, 1999
    East Lansing, MI
    Hi Sarah

    The name of the board exam is COMLEX, and yes, many D.O. do take both the COMLEX and the allopathic national board exam (USMLE). In no way is it necessary for you to take both. Those that take both are applying into competitive allopathic programs where USLME scores will give them more of a competitive edge, or they may be applying into allopathic programs that do not accept the COMLEX. I would like to note; however, that there are many allopathic programs that do accept COMPLEX scores. If your interested in an allopathic residency program, the best thing for you to do is to contact the program director and ask for his/her advice in regard to taking the USMLE.

    I have not taken the COMLEX or the USMLE yet, so I can't comment on what differences exist between them. What I have heard, from my colleagues who have taken both exams, is that the USMLE is more scientifically oriented, whereas the COMLEX is more clinically oriented. Another somewhat minor difference is that the COMPLEX has OMM questions on it, and obviously the USMLE does not. I hope this helps you, and good luck!!!
  4. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York
    Like USMLE is the United States Medical Licenscing Examination, the COMLEX is the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licenscing Examination.

    They are similar in that they are administered in three parts, or steps, the first of which is taken after the second year (typically), the second is taken after the fourth year, and the third is taken after the internship year (first year of residency).

    They differ somewhat in scope. Whereas the USMLE Step 1 focuses primarily on basic sciences and applied basic sciences in clinical vignettes, the COMLEX Part 1 focuses on basic sciences and osteopathic concepts. Similar osteopathic-type things are evident in all other parts of the COMLEX.

    Many DO students take both the COMLEX and the USMLE, but cannot substitute the COMLEX with the USMLE as a way of medical licensure. They probably take it because COMLEX scores are still something of a mystery to residency directors, who may not understand the scoring or even understand the exam content. Taking the USMLE gives the DO graduate a set of numbers that can most readily be compared to scores of, say, an MD graduate. There are also programs out there which require applicants to take the USMLE and do not accept COMLEX scores.

    Finally for the purpose of licensure of osteopathic physicians in the State of Louisianna, the USMLE is the only accepted path toward medical licensure. LA currently does not accept COMLEX, although the AOA has been trying to convince them.

    Tim of New York City.
  5. TP

    TP Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 3, 1999
    I have 2 questions:

    If you take both the usmle and the comlex for step 1, are you obligated/ required to take both for step 2 and 3?

    I know that for DO schools it's a requirement to take the comlex for graduation. So can you take the comlex for step 1 and 2 and then take ONLY the usmle for part 3 ( post-med. school). The reason i ask is that i'm thinking of possibly subspecializing in cardiology. I know that i have to first do a residency in internal medicine and then do a fellowship in cardiology. Many people tell me that the comlex would suffice for internal med. residencies (both allopathic and osteo) but for something as competitive as cardiology, the usmle would be needed..

    [This message has been edited by TP (edited August 11, 1999).]
  6. drusso

    drusso Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 1998
    Over the rainbow
    As a DO student, taking step 1 does not require you to take step 2 and 3 of the USMLE. However, most ACGME residency programs want to see both step 1 and step 2 scores if they prefer DO's to have the USMLE scores. Both MD's and DO's take step 3 after their first year of residency to complete the requirements for state licensure. Few programs care which sequence their students ultimately complete so as long as they end up getting a medical license.

    So, as a DO you could take USMLE step 1 and step 2 and then finish up your licensing requirements by taking COMLEX Step 3 (COMLEX steps 1 and 2 would have been completed before graduating from medical school).
  7. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York

    As an osteopathic student taking the USMLE Step 1, you are not obligated to finish off both Steps 2 and 3. You are obligated, however, for the purpose of graduation and licensure as a DO Physician and Surgeon, to finish off all parts of the COMLEX (unless you're in Louisianna).

    Taking COMLEX Part 3 is more a requirement of your state's medical board, I believe, and as a DO you must take the COMLEX Part 3 to be licensed as a DO physician though you've already graduated with a DO.

    If you're advised to take the USMLE for a cardiology fellowship, then you will take the USMLE in addition to taking the COMLEX. I didn't know a Cardiology fellowship was difficult. According to the Iserson book Cardiology is one of the easier fellowships to get.

    Tim of New York City.

    [This message has been edited by turtleboard (edited August 11, 1999).]

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