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D.O.'s vs. M.D.'s on board pass-rates. COMLEX & USMLE equivalent?

Discussion in 'Step I' started by asilvey, Nov 7, 2001.

  1. asilvey

    asilvey Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Deptford, NJ
    Sorry to cross-post, but I wanted to reach a broad audience.
    However infuriating, untrue/true, or arrogant it is, M.D. students will always say applicants go D.O. because they lack the stats to go M.D.
    My question is: thinking along these lines, shouldn't M.D.'s have a better passing rate on the boards (assuming COMLEX & USMLE are equivalent, are they?) as compared to D.O.'s? Or do their "better stats" not mean much as to how well a student will do in med-school and on the boards? Does anyone out there get what I am saying? If so, give me some insight...
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  3. Gotrob

    Gotrob Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 4, 2001
    If you check out the faq on the osteopathic section of SDN, it talks about both the COMLEX and the USMLE. It appears they are equal...although it is possible not all MD students would agree. Since many osteopathic students take the USMLE you would think that there must be some stats that would show a comparison of MD vs. DO students.
  4. PainMan

    PainMan Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 23, 2001
    anywhere but here
    Here is what I know. Back in the 70's when my dad went to medical school DO's couldnt work or admit in hospitals. Things have changed tremendously and the reason being is that DO's have exhibited the same knowledge and ability as MD's through the same basic sciences and a tweaked(in a good way, no blasting please) md clinical experience in school, and proper medical care after. The COMLEX and USMLE are equivalent (for licensure)in the eyes of FSMB (Federation of State Medical Boards) which is the parent company of the USMLE. Most residencies on the allopathic side now accept COMLEX scores in place of USMLE scores because of this accreditation by the FSMB. The links below show students who take both score around the same percentile.AZCOM Fact Page
    SDN Fact Page
    Now the next question should be "are programs on the allopathic side still biased" yes and no. As long as the two are separate (as they should be) there will be bias on both sides. But since there still are not enough DO residencies compared to graduates it should be addressed. This was my main concern when I was choosing my preference (md vs do). I found what I was looking for and more. Yale Emergency Medicine residency program has at least one DO per class since 1992. John Hopkins and Harvard have DO residents also. Colorado(my state) has 2 DO clinical radiologist on staff at the major rotation/residency site for UC-MD program. Don't think there are not quality DO residencies, just not as many.

    I think the discovery of the osteopathic approach to medicine is very interesting. It provides a few alternatives to some allopathic approaches to disease. You can do more with the osteopathic principals if you want, but either way you still have to learn diagnosis and management of disease. The DO's I have shadowed worked in a mix of health care providers that simply do that-provide health care. I am sure you can find experiences otherwise, but not like back in the day. Approach osteopathic medicine with the question what can it offer? not how will I fit in. That game is old, worn out and only propagated (on both sides )by fear, jealousy, insecurity, and the worst- ignorance. If you are competent you will be respected...I interview next week at DMU (my preference) and will not look back if they allow me join their ranks.
  5. Freeeedom!

    Freeeedom! Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2001
    I am a ninja
    Osmosis, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    Good luck in your studies, I almost went to DMU (at the time it was UOMHS-COMS), but chose elsewhere.
  6. drusso

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

    Nov 21, 1998
    Over the rainbow
    DO's couldn't admit to hospitals in the 70's? I think you're wrong on that one...
  7. John DO

    John DO A.T. Still Endowed Chair 7+ Year Member

    Jun 19, 2001
    Tampa Bay, FL
    a few states did not grant full practice rights until that late, drusso. Sad to say, but true, nonetheless . . .

    I can't remember which ones , though.
  8. Sweaty Paul

    Sweaty Paul Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Kirksville MO
    Gotrob and Asilvey,

    Hope I got the spellings correct. I don't know where to find any specific information on where to find a comparison on the USMLE performances comparing DO students and MD students. However, last spring KCOM was visited by the director of the USMLE because those students who took the USMLE in 2002 scored in the 85% percentile of all schools taking the exam. The director came to Kirksville to find out what KCOM was/is doing and how a DO school would be score so highly on their exam since we should theoretically be teaching to the COMLEX standard. That said, I don't know how the class of 2003 fared, however, they did perform well on the COMLEX.

    Ultimately, there isn't that much difference in the basic sciences between allopathic and osteopathic, the fundamental difference is a philosophical one on approaching patients as people or parts of a disease. Further, many allopathic schools are changing their philosophies to embrace the idea of patient as a person, so as each class is graduated the lines of distinction become progressively more blurred.

    That's my two cents. I'll keep my ear down and if I find a place publishing a comparison of performance on the USMLE I will post it for you all.

  9. godfather

    godfather Member 10+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2001
    my two cents, there are many exceptional do's, how good of a physician you end up totally depends on you since after 2nd year of medical school what you learn is totally person driven and not school driven. the science of medicine doesn't change and even though i attend a allopathic school i am often times working with do's or being trained by them. Now some hard statistics. generally speaking do's have a 10% less pass rate on usmle step 1 than us allopathic grads. This is probably due to the fact that the caliber of student coming out of undergrad going to Do school is weaker (not always but usually!) then the people that go to allopathic schools. having said this from what i've seen clinically do's in practice are usually as good as md's(as already mentioned experience is much more important in learning the ART of medicine than tests which are more important for learning the SCIENCE of medicine.
  10. Freeeedom!

    Freeeedom! Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2001
    I am a ninja
    Listen up.

    The tests are roughly the same. The attitude going into each test is very different. the COMLEX must be passed and you should do well. The USMLE isn't even necessary for graduation.

    The COMLEX is more forgiving because it has 400 MORE questions over an additional day, allowing for a BAD day.
    I can tell you the USMLE step 2 was difficult and has a HUGE time constraint on it, which they will undoubtedly change. COMLEX doesn't have that and is far more relaxed.

    Regarding students going in to DO programs...they were some of the most intelligent people I had ever met. They are absolutely no different than allopathic students, I have worked with both...and during my first residency interview, the residency director said he thought DO students were better prepared than their allopathic counterparts!

    I do believe DO programs are too big and allow a few too many borderline students in. There are also a couple of programs that are a bit Sketchy...I won't name names.
  11. Sweaty Paul

    Sweaty Paul Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2001
    Kirksville MO

    You hit it right on the head. Ultimately, the type of physician you will become is by the determined application of yourself to learn. More important, standardized tests, as you point out, cannot replace experience. Once you get done jumping through hoops (boards, biochem)experience will be what you need to suceed as a physician.


  12. p-bo

    p-bo Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 15, 2001
    I'm a 3rd year DO student who took both the USMLE and COMLEX last year. These tests are not the same and any osteopathic medical student who studies for the COMLEX and thinks they will just "sit" for the UMSLE w/o any different preparation is crazy. The COMLEX is much more clinically based, much longer, much more picky, and much more frustrating. The USMLE seemed to really test the basic sciences and was an easier exam to "work through". COMLEX had tons of anatomy and phamr, little biochem, little physiology. USMLE had rare anatomy, tons of physio and biochem. I realize that not all the USMLE tests are the same but generally they are. I took the USMLE because thats what the allopathic residency directors told me to do. Everyone has to make an individual decision about taking it. If you fail, which 15% of DOs that take it do, some states make you pass it before granting a licence, even if you pass all 3 parts of the COMLEX. Be careful, do your research, and use more resources than this website!
  13. Slingblade the Surgeon

    Slingblade the Surgeon Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2001
    Big Black Leather Chair
    There are stats for MD's, DO's and Foreign MD's on the USMLE website.

    <a href="" target="_blank">USMLE</a>

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