MJJ

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I have a few questions for anyone that is well informed about the topic:

1. Can a person that has only taken COMLEX step 1 get an allopathic residency (assuming they are "DO-friendly" allopathic residencies)? In other words, do the DO-friendly residencies require USMLE step 1?

2. How does the DO match work...i know you have to go through 2 matches but which one (DO or MD) happens first? and what if you match into a DO slot and still want to go through the MD match...can you still do so without withdrawing from DO position?

Sorry if these questions sound idiotic, I am new to all this and want to make an informed decision.

MJJ
 

eag

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I have a few questions for anyone that is well informed about the topic:

1. Can a person that has only taken COMLEX step 1 get an allopathic residency (assuming they are "DO-friendly" allopathic residencies)? In other words, do the DO-friendly residencies require USMLE step 1?

2. How does the DO match work...i know you have to go through 2 matches but which one (DO or MD) happens first? and what if you match into a DO slot and still want to go through the MD match...can you still do so without withdrawing from DO position?

Sorry if these questions sound idiotic, I am new to all this and want to make an informed decision.

MJJ

#1 - DO friendly programs seems to be ok with just the COMLEX. The only way you know for sure is to contact the programs you are interested in and get a direct answer to that question. If you have alumni from your school at the program, contact them and find out how it was for them. I know many people you are going solely with the COMLEX and they seem to be fine since they did well on it. Whatever you decide in the end, you must rock the exam(s)
#2 - The DO match is in Feb and the MD match is in March. If you apply to both and Match DO, you automatically are withdrawn from the MD match. If you are in both matches and realize that you want to wait for the MD match, do not rank the osteopathic programs and you will be in the allopathic match. If it is a dual program, you can pick to be in both or choose one. It helps some people and it doesn't help others. For me, I chose the osteopathic match for the dual programs. If I decide I rather go for the allopathic programs, I will not rank the ones that I have in the osteopathic match.
 

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Family med programs in CA have definately shown interest in me and I only have COMLEX scores (not stellar ones) but the rest of my application is strong. If you apply to both DO/MD programs, and get into a DO program you are kicked out of the MD match since it happens after the DO match and you've agreed that if you match, you will attend that program.
 
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Old_Mil

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I have a few questions for anyone that is well informed about the topic:

1. Can a person that has only taken COMLEX step 1 get an allopathic residency (assuming they are "DO-friendly" allopathic residencies)? In other words, do the DO-friendly residencies require USMLE step 1?

Just because a residency doesn't accept Comlex don't assume they aren't "DO friendly." They may just be a high quality program that isn't willing to judge its applicants according to the standards of an inferior exam.
 

WestcoastMedicine

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I have many interviews with only the comlex, even ivy league places. I did a rotation at one of them and got a STELLAR letter so that definitely helps get you interviews... I did have a few places along the way regret me pre-interview since I didn't have USMLE, but that was only 2 out of 20.
 

LadyGrey

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Sure, some people do it. But why give yourself a handicap in an area where you could be giving yourself an advantage? Why miss out on even the "only" 2 out of 20 mentioned above?

I assume you're a first year? Even if you think you are sure about what residency you want, people change their minds all the time, and you may find yourself wanting to apply to something more competitive where there aren't many programs willing to accept the COMLEX. Or you may want to apply to a particular region of the country where it's not as accepted.

The only semi-legit reason not to take it is if you know that you're a horrible test-taker, and think you might fail it or do really badly. In general I think it can only help, and school administrators who tell you otherwise are just trying to narrow your options and keep you within DO land.
 

GoBuckeyes913

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Sure, some people do it. But why give yourself a handicap in an area where you could be giving yourself an advantage? Why miss out on even the "only" 2 out of 20 mentioned above?

I assume you're a first year? Even if you think you are sure about what residency you want, people change their minds all the time, and you may find yourself wanting to apply to something more competitive where there aren't many programs willing to accept the COMLEX. Or you may want to apply to a particular region of the country where it's not as accepted.

The only semi-legit reason not to take it is if you know that you're a horrible test-taker, and think you might fail it or do really badly. In general I think it can only help, and school administrators who tell you otherwise are just trying to narrow your options and keep you within DO land.
I politely disagree. I would have to say that making the decision to take USMLE is dependent on the personal aspects of the applicant. I never took the USMLE and had no problem getting interviews at most of my top allo programs I researched ahead of time. I think it's either helpful or not on a case-by-case basis, depending on what you're applying to, where you want to apply, etc. I don't think taking it would have changed my interviews, and I don't think it "handicapped" me at all. I saved $500 :thumbup: On the contrary, it would be beneficial for other applicants. Everyone is different. I'm a great test taker, and USMLE wouldn't have changed my outcome, so I think that's a pretty legit reason not to take it as well.
 

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Here's the bottomline...

A DO friendly program is one that has taken DOs and is more progressive in that it treats applicants --> residents as the same regardless of DO vs MD. But, DO friendly programs can choose to only accept USMLE...because they can. I think that is insitution and specialty specific.

Some traditional, prestigious programs may not take COMLEX because they have an abundance of applicants with USMLE...why do they have to go through the hoop of comparing apples to oranges with a conversion chart? Also, the more competitive specialties will not take COMLEX because, again, there is an abundance of qualified MD applicants with USMLE.

I do agree that some specialites (mostly primary care, but other specialities such as PMR, etc) are taking COMLEX. But for most of your surgical subspecialties and the derm, rads, anesthesia, and ophtho, they will likely only take USMLE.

The year I graduated, almost all of the people who matched into the "competitive" specialties listed above took USMLE...and most did very well. But, I had a lot of friends applying for FP, OB/GYN, and IM that were offered great interviews with only COMLEX.

The problem is, it's difficult to know if you'll be applying for one of those hard specialties when you're signing up to take COMLEX. Hence the dilemma.
 

LadyGrey

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I never took the USMLE and had no problem getting interviews at most of my top allo programs I researched ahead of time. I think it's either helpful or not on a case-by-case basis, depending on what you're applying to, where you want to apply, etc.

I'm glad your choice is working out for you. But what cuddlepuppy said is spot on -- most people do not know what they're applying for when they have to make the decision of whether or not to take it. It's hard to research programs ahead of time when you're not sure of a specialty yet.
 

Lamborghini1315

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I'm glad your choice is working out for you. But what cuddlepuppy said is spot on -- most people do not know what they're applying for when they have to make the decision of whether or not to take it. It's hard to research programs ahead of time when you're not sure of a specialty yet.

Yes you have the right mindset, your road to residency will have plenty of speed bumps you need to be prepared. Your application won't be complete without a usmle score, why ruin your chances when you can match anywhere you want if you simply put an effort to take one extra exam!
 

bigDinLV

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I'm glad your choice is working out for you. But what cuddlepuppy said is spot on -- most people do not know what they're applying for when they have to make the decision of whether or not to take it. It's hard to research programs ahead of time when you're not sure of a specialty yet.

I disagree, the USMLE is not absolutely necessary. I'm applying for anesthesia and got some very good MD interviews WITHOUT the USMLE. I don't think anyone here would call Rush a slacker institution, or Indiana (one of the largest anes programs in the country). I ended up with an almost sure thing at a MD university that does level I trauma and organ transplants, so no shame here.

I had 2 programs out of 25 shoot me down based on no USMLE. University of Iowa said without the USMLE and a COMLEX 3 digit below 600 they could not offer an interview. Baylor required the USMLE.

Bottom line, check out the places you really want to go and see if ti is required.
 

LadyGrey

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I disagree, the USMLE is not absolutely necessary. I'm applying for anesthesia and got some very good MD interviews WITHOUT the USMLE.
...
Bottom line, check out the places you really want to go and see if ti is required.

Is it necessary? No. But is it helpful? Yes -- so why not help yourself?

Even though it sounds like your strategy is working out great for you, you did have two programs shoot you down because you didn't have the USMLE. Losing out on those programs isn't hurting you, but it could hurt someone else in a different field or geographical region.

But the last bit of advice is where I strongly disagree. For many of us, at the time when we're deciding whether or not to take the USMLE Step 1, it is impossible to research places in detail because we don't have a definite specialty in mind. Also, other circumstances change -- between taking Step 1 and Matching, someone might fall in love and decide to do the couple's match. If both people are trying for something competitive, that's a situation where you don't want to close yourself out of programs before you begin.
 
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ChiDO

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I disagree, the USMLE is not absolutely necessary. I'm applying for anesthesia and got some very good MD interviews WITHOUT the USMLE. I don't think anyone here would call Rush a slacker institution, or Indiana (one of the largest anes programs in the country). I ended up with an almost sure thing at a MD university that does level I trauma and organ transplants, so no shame here.

I had 2 programs out of 25 shoot me down based on no USMLE. University of Iowa said without the USMLE and a COMLEX 3 digit below 600 they could not offer an interview. Baylor required the USMLE.

Bottom line, check out the places you really want to go and see if ti is required.

Iowa won't grant an interview with a score less then 600 on the COMLEX sounds kind of absurdly high. a 600 on the comlex is like 240ish on the USMLE right? According to the AAMC career's website, the average matched anes applicant had a 220 score with the 75th percentle being 230.

Maybe I have my conversions wrong, but seems to me like Iowa wants really high scores.
 

bigDinLV

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Iowa won't grant an interview with a score less then 600 on the COMLEX sounds kind of absurdly high. a 600 on the comlex is like 240ish on the USMLE right? According to the AAMC career's website, the average matched anes applicant had a 220 score with the 75th percentle being 230.

Maybe I have my conversions wrong, but seems to me like Iowa wants really high scores.

yes a 600 on the COMLEX is a pretty good score. I assume their reasoning is that without a USMLE they only want the top 10-15% of people who only took the COMLEX.

if you took the USMLE then they could compare apples to apples and they may grant a interview with a COMLEX lower than 600 as long as the USMLE meets their standards.

I do see the point in taking it, at the time I just made the decision not to take it. My COMLEX score put me at about the 70th percentile. Nothing really special, but still at the lower end of competetive.

Here is something else to take into mind.. Your grades and your letters of reference. My GPA was around 3.4-3.5 and my letters were really outstanding. Had a nice letter form a senior oral examiner on the American Board of Anesthesia.

It isn't just boards scores alone, it is the complete package.
 

Lamborghini1315

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Is it necessary? No. But is it helpful? Yes -- so why not help yourself?

Even though it sounds like your strategy is working out great for you, you did have two programs shoot you down because you didn't have the USMLE. Losing out on those programs isn't hurting you, but it could hurt someone else in a different field or geographical region.

But the last bit of advice is where I strongly disagree. For many of us, at the time when we're deciding whether or not to take the USMLE Step 1, it is impossible to research places in detail because we don't have a definite specialty in mind. Also, other circumstances change -- between taking Step 1 and Matching, someone might fall in love and decide to do the couple's match. If both people are trying for something competitive, that's a situation where you don't want to close yourself out of programs before you begin.

I like how ya think hehe :thumbup:
 

Lamborghini1315

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Iowa won't grant an interview with a score less then 600 on the COMLEX sounds kind of absurdly high. a 600 on the comlex is like 240ish on the USMLE right? According to the AAMC career's website, the average matched anes applicant had a 220 score with the 75th percentle being 230.

Maybe I have my conversions wrong, but seems to me like Iowa wants really high scores.

This is quite debatable the material on comlex and usmle are quite differently emphasized also i said this a lot in the past how do you account for an extra subject like opp in your exam? Does a good score reflect that you did exceptionally well in opp and that buffered your other weaknesses or vice versa. Just realize this you can't make an objective comparison of both exams. However a 600+ score bodes well it means you did great comlex wise but not a lot of program directors know the value of a 600 on comlex.
 

bigDinLV

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This is quite debatable the material on comlex and usmle are quite differently emphasized also i said this a lot in the past how do you account for an extra subject like opp in your exam? Does a good score reflect that you did exceptionally well in opp and that buffered your other weaknesses or vice versa. Just realize this you can't make an objective comparison of both exams. However a 600+ score bodes well it means you did great comlex wise but not a lot of program directors know the value of a 600 on comlex.

It's just silly to say that. You mean to tell me that programs directors are unable to find out what the mean score and standard deviations are? Granted, they may be not be as familiar with the score system as they are with the USMLE, but they know exactly what it means when they have a cut off of 600 without USMLE. They know they have set the bar high. They know what the average score is. They know what percentile that will put you in.

The people that are telling you that the COMLEX isn't a valid test or that they don't know how to judge the scores are behind the times.. We're getting the respect we deserve, its just too bad people within our own profession don't even realize it.
 

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i absolutely disagree with BigDinLV. sure, program directors can see that you were in a certain percentile on the COMLEX but if they have hundreds of applications with USMLE scores, they won't say "hey, i'll give this DO applicant in the 80th %ile on COMLEX a shot over the many MD applicants in the 80th %ile on USMLE". it's a classic saying, but apples to apples applies here. when i was applying for residencies, there were many programs that said that they "accepted" COMLEX, but they told me to be competitive i would have to submit my USMLE scores. it's not that a program is not DO friendly or behind the times, that's just how things work when you have two completely different tests. plus, MDs have a long history with USMLE...they know its value, they don't have any personal experience with COMLEX. bottomline, you said it best. you were granted many interviews with your COMLEX alone, but were denied at a few placed. those few places could make the difference. realize that many programs use the USMLE scores as a cutoff for interviews. when hundreds of MD applicants are denied with a 79th %ile on USMLE for an 80th %ile cutoff, why should they grant an interview to you when you have an 80th %ile on COMLEX. this is all from experience, having been through the whole process. if you do not know what you want to do or you have your heart set on a competitive residency, definitely take USMLE. afterall, medicine is medicine, you'll do well. most people just want an excuse to not take the exam.
 

bigDinLV

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i absolutely disagree with BigDinLV. sure, program directors can see that you were in a certain percentile on the COMLEX but if they have hundreds of applications with USMLE scores, they won't say "hey, i'll give this DO applicant in the 80th %ile on COMLEX a shot over the many MD applicants in the 80th %ile on USMLE". it's a classic saying, but apples to apples applies here. when i was applying for residencies, there were many programs that said that they "accepted" COMLEX, but they told me to be competitive i would have to submit my USMLE scores. it's not that a program is not DO friendly or behind the times, that's just how things work when you have two completely different tests. plus, MDs have a long history with USMLE...they know its value, they don't have any personal experience with COMLEX. bottomline, you said it best. you were granted many interviews with your COMLEX alone, but were denied at a few placed. those few places could make the difference. realize that many programs use the USMLE scores as a cutoff for interviews. when hundreds of MD applicants are denied with a 79th %ile on USMLE for an 80th %ile cutoff, why should they grant an interview to you when you have an 80th %ile on COMLEX. this is all from experience, having been through the whole process. if you do not know what you want to do or you have your heart set on a competitive residency, definitely take USMLE. afterall, medicine is medicine, you'll do well. most people just want an excuse to not take the exam.


You do have a point with apples to apples. Some places might like that. Not taking the the USMLE is not a death sentence for MD residency positions. There was 1 place that said no COMLEX, USMLE only.. Here is a reality check on taking the exams, if you score in the 70th percentile on COMLEX fo you think you're really going to get a significantly higher score on USMLE that will get you that interview? (most people never mention that huh?)If they cut off at 80th or so, there is a good chance you'll get cut either way. You'll probably do about the same percentile on both tests.

So you can disagree all you want, but I am proof that USMLE is not needed to get interviews at competetive MD programs...
 
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LadyGrey

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Here is a reality check on taking the exams, if you score in the 70th percentile on COMLEX fo you think you're really going to get a significantly higher score on USMLE that will get you that interview? (most people never mention that huh?)If they cut off at 80th or so, there is a good chance you'll get cut either way. You'll probably do about the same percentile on both tests.
It's hard to predict (and I don't know any studies) how someone will do on one test based on the other. I do know that I did better on USMLE, as did some other folks I know; I also know some who did worse. I don't think there's any absolute predictive rule. They are different tests; some people might do better with one style than the other.

So you can disagree all you want, but I am proof that USMLE is not needed to get interviews at competetive MD programs...

Sure. You got some good interviews, and wound up somewhere that makes you happy. I don't think anyone is saying that it is impossible to get some competitive interviews without the USMLE. But by your own account, you're also proof that some programs will reject you just for lack of a USMLE. So you're proof that without the USMLE, you have fewer options. (Again, they turned out to be very good options, and all went well for you, but I don't think your experience generalizes to everyone). Fewer options, not worse -- but with length of your ROL being such an important part of matching, why choose to risk having fewer options?
 

bigDinLV

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It's hard to predict (and I don't know any studies) how someone will do on one test based on the other. I do know that I did better on USMLE, as did some other folks I know; I also know some who did worse. I don't think there's any absolute predictive rule. They are different tests; some people might do better with one style than the other.



Sure. You got some good interviews, and wound up somewhere that makes you happy. I don't think anyone is saying that it is impossible to get some competitive interviews without the USMLE. But by your own account, you're also proof that some programs will reject you just for lack of a USMLE. So you're proof that without the USMLE, you have fewer options. (Again, they turned out to be very good options, and all went well for you, but I don't think your experience generalizes to everyone). Fewer options, not worse -- but with length of your ROL being such an important part of matching, why choose to risk having fewer options?

Everything you have said is correct.

I guess my only point is, ahhh heck, I don't have a point anymore :)
 
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Dear Dxxxxx,

We have received your ERAS application and would like to invite you for an interview. We interview on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 9:00am and ending at approximately 4:00pm. Our remaining interview dates for this year are:

Tuesday, xxxx (1 slot)
Thursday, xxxx (2 slots)

Dinner will be provided by our Department the evening before your interview day. When you have decided on an interview date, please let me know your 1st and 2nd choices. I will email a letter confirming your date, and details about the interview process at Saint Louis University, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!
Sincerely,
XXXXXXXXXXXX
Residency Coordinator
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
3635 Vista Avenue at Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110-0250
 

bigDinLV

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I did send them an email first.. My reply and invitation.

Dxxxxx, I am pleased to tell you that while I was away, your file was marked to invite for an interview. I can offer you Saturday, December xxx (8 am) or Monday, January xxx (8 am or noon).
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Rush University Medical Center
Department of Anesthesiology
739 Jelke
1653 W. Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60612
 

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Want copies of my invitations? What are you doing in the med student section anyway mrs pre med???



congrats on your acceptance.

Thanks, that's mighty kind or mighty sarcastic of you! I can't tell which. :smuggrin:
 

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For my part, I didn't doubt your sincerity, I was making a joke. I guess that wasn't clear with the smiley face? I'll put future joke markers in italics or parenthesis (joke).

Dear Dxxxxx,

We have received your ERAS application and would like to invite you for an interview. We interview on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 9:00am and ending at approximately 4:00pm. Our remaining interview dates for this year are:

Tuesday, xxxx (1 slot)
Thursday, xxxx (2 slots)

Dinner will be provided by our Department the evening before your interview day. When you have decided on an interview date, please let me know your 1st and 2nd choices. I will email a letter confirming your date, and details about the interview process at Saint Louis University, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!
Sincerely,
XXXXXXXXXXXX
Residency Coordinator
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Saint Louis University School of Medicine
3635 Vista Avenue at Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110-0250
 

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if you want to go into a competitive allopathic residency, taking the usmle is a good idea. Even if you are applying to a moderately competitive residency, usmle scores can help you because the 2 digit score on the comlex is comparatively lower than the usmle 2 digit score, even though you may have scored higher percentile-wise on the comlex. Many programs I spoke to don't differentiate between the two digit desparity of comlex and usmle. Some programs, wrongly, even regard the 2 digit score as a percentile.


Take the usmle. Its just not worth the risk not to be competitve, when this is the rest of your life were talking about.

The usmle is not some big scary thing, if anything it is easier to do well than the craplex
 

Lamborghini1315

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This is probably the most redundant topic on osteopathic forums, just go to some ACGME hospital websites they clearly state that USMLE is required heck it even matters to set up a rotation at some places. I don't want to post any links on this forum but do a search through google you will come across a handful. Some program directors will not vocally admit to you but its implied that you need to have a USMLE score..end of discussion folks, this issue should be more of a battle of why not take it? instead of debating what are the advantages of not taking USMLE, the answer is none.
 

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IMHO, the only legit reason not to take it is if you will do poorly on it. You can figure this out very easily by taking one of the practice NBME exams.

The possibility of missing out on even 1 interview is 1 too many.

I know too many people who are kicking themselves for not taking the USMLE. As MS-II's they were sure they wanted primary care or didn't think they would care about the location of the residency in a more competitive field. Things changed...woops...
 
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JonnyG

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IMHO, the only legit reason not to take it is if you will do poorly on it. You can figure this out very easily by taking one of the practice NBME exams.

The possibility of missing out on even 1 interview is 1 too many.

I know too many people who are kicking themselves for not taking the USMLE. As MII's they were sure they wanted primary care or didn't think they would care about the location of the residency in a more competitive field. Things changed...woops...

agreed most people study for the usmle and add omm since there is really no good resource out there for comlex
 

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Absolutely! People study for COMLEX by using First Aid (or some other USMLE geared study guide) and just add OMM. I think most people don't take USMLE because it's another stressful exam, more money, and the hysteria that DO students don't do very well on USMLE because we are "trained to take COMLEX". In reality, medicine is medicine and both tests examine just that. It's true, as DO students, you should try to convince yourself why you shouldn't take USMLE because as experience has shown, specialties can change, life situations may require you to apply in a certain region without many DO options, and some programs may not be willing to take your COMLEX even though they say they will. In my opinion, USMLE was a better test that actually tested you on what you studied for in First Aid. Believe in your education and take the extra hurdle, I think the majority will be glad they did when their options, come ERAS/Match time, are even 1 potential program more.

True, you can get some interview invites at good institutions with just COMLEX. But a lot of those have good DO experience and have had DO residents (ie. SLU and RUSH).
 

bigDinLV

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Don't you think that if they won't just accept your COMLEX that perhaps they might be a little biased towards taking DOs in the first place? The places I have interviewed so far were very accepting of us, said DO or MD didn't matter at all. I'm sure they places with a cut off for DOs won't be nearly so accepting.

That was one of my big reasons. The programs that will not take your COMLEX, only USMLE may have some of the old school program directors that don't look so favorably on us in the first place. So only if we are the absolute cream of the DO crop could we even possibly be good enough for their program? Hence the places that have a 600 cut off.

So lets say you do take the USMLE and get the interview at one of those programs... Think there could be a chip on their shoulder towards you? Look at some of those programs and see how many DOs they have on staff. Perhaps not taking the USMLE saved me from wasting money traveling to programs that I was good enough to interview at but not really going to be competetive at in the first place????

Take me as I am, for who I am, or don't.. Fine with me.
 

Lamborghini1315

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Don't you think that if they won't just accept your COMLEX that perhaps they might be a little biased towards taking DOs in the first place? The places I have interviewed so far were very accepting of us, said DO or MD didn't matter at all. I'm sure they places with a cut off for DOs won't be nearly so accepting.

That was one of my big reasons. The programs that will not take your COMLEX, only USMLE may have some of the old school program directors that don't look so favorably on us in the first place. So only if we are the absolute cream of the DO crop could we even possibly be good enough for their program? Hence the places that have a 600 cut off.

So lets say you do take the USMLE and get the interview at one of those programs... Think there could be a chip on their shoulder towards you? Look at some of those programs and see how many DOs they have on staff. Perhaps not taking the USMLE saved me from wasting money traveling to programs that I was good enough to interview at but not really going to be competetive at in the first place????

Take me as I am, for who I am, or don't.. Fine with me.

You are more experienced in this matter than i am but personally i feel like as DO's we need to show any program with a bias towards us that we can stand tall on the same field as them. The only way in my mind to do that is through a good score on the USMLE, i just don't believe in shying away because someone harbors hatred towards you if you change the culture by excelling you will help your future DO colleagues.
 

Doctor4Life1769

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BigDinLV,

I'm interested in Anesthesia. It seems like you are attempting to get into an allopathic anesthesia residency program and you did not take the USMLE. Could you mention specifically these residency programs (allopathic only) that have given you interview invitations w/o the USMLE score? Also, what range was your COMLEX score? Did you do anesthesia research? Should I do research in anesthesia if I've gotten 2 publications in that are surgically related? Your information may be helpful for me, as I don't have a lot of time to take the USMLE along with the COMLEX, and may just opt to take COMLEX only. So, if you don't feel comfortable posting here, please send me a PM detailing me the information/personal anecdote.

Thank you!
 
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