two more cents here--
i struggled with this issue last summer when there was this big old panic because it got out that the COMLEX exam was not even yet statistically validated..at that time we all went haywire b/c kcom subsidized and asked its students to take the USMLE as did many other schools to protect themselves from what was projected to be inevitable failure.
i only took the COMLEX and will be applying for EM residencies.
the bottom line is this:
the COMLEX is the most poorly written exam i have ever taken in my life. it is long, arduous, and many questions don;t make sense, some don't have correct answers.
but you are required to take it, period.
does any MD program out there really know what the COMLEX exam is made up of? NO
do these MD programs know how to interpret COMLEX? some say they don't..in fact i have run into quite a few DMEs who say to take the USMLE b/c they don't know what COMLEX means..neither do i. however, i figure that if an allopathic program is interviewing DOs for its residency staff, it better get off its lazy butt and figure out what the COMLEX means b/c it is the DO standard exam.
if some program does not want to review the COMLEX exam and interpret it and would rather you take USMLE, at some level i think this is discrimination against DOs...if they ask you to do one thing to "fit into the crowd," what will be next? Do you really want to go to a program like that?
like it or not as a DO you are different..the difference may not amount to a whole hill of beans--great you can fix things with your hands--you have a few extra tricks up your sleeve--but you are still different.
if we are to succeed in this competative world of medicine as different, we must stand tall and stand by the standards we are setting for ourselves as DOs
i did not take the USMLE but i used all the review books and practice questions..i thought those questions were a bit more academic, less clinical.
my friends who took the USMLE did not find it much different from COMLEX, just shorter, on computer, and not as exhausting..they scored around the same on each..
if you want to practice on the west coast, take the USMLE--you need it--undisputed--same for louisianna..
otherwise, there are plenty of people you will meet at incredibly competative programs who took COMLEX and still managed to land harvard.