Medical EducationOriginal Article

Comparison of Basic Science Knowledge Between DO and MD Students

Glenn E. Davis, MS, and Gregory G. Gayer, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: July 19, 2016

Accepted: August 17, 2016

Published: February 1, 2017

J Osteopath Med; 117(2): 114-123

Context: With the coming single accreditation system for graduate medical education, medical educators may wonder whether knowledge in basic sciences is equivalent for osteopathic and allopathic medical students.

Objectives: To examine whether medical students’ basic science knowledge is the same among osteopathic and allopathic medical students.

Methods: A dataset of the Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine-CA student records from the classes of 2013, 2014, and 2015 and the national cohort of National Board of Medical Examiners Comprehensive Basic Science Examination (NBME-CBSE) parameters for MD students were used. Models of the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA) Level 1 scores were fit using linear and logistic regression. The models included variables used in both osteopathic and allopathic medical professions to predict COMLEX-USA outcomes, such as Medical College Admission Test biology scores, preclinical grade point average, number of undergraduate science units, and scores on the NBME-CBSE. Regression statistics were studied to compare the effectiveness of models that included or excluded NBME-CBSE scores at predicting COMLEX-USA Level 1 scores. Variance inflation factor was used to investigate multicollinearity. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to show the effectiveness of NBME-CBSE scores at predicting COMLEX-USA Level 1 pass/fail outcomes. A t test at 99% level was used to compare mean NBME-CBSE scores with the national cohort.

Results: A total of 390 student records were analyzed. Scores on the NBME-CBSE were found to be an effective predictor of COMLEX-USA Level 1 scores (P<.001). The pass/fail outcome on COMLEX-USA Level 1 was also well predicted by NBME-CBSE scores (P<.001). No significant difference was found in performance on the NBME-CBSE between osteopathic and allopathic medical students (P=.322).

Conclusions: As an examination constructed to assess the basic science knowledge of allopathic medical students, the NBME-CBSE is effective at predicting performance on COMLEX-USA Level 1. In addition, osteopathic medical students performed the same as allopathic medical students on the NBME-CBSE. The results imply that the same basic science knowledge is expected for DO and MD students.

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