Graduating Osteopathic Medical Students’ Perceptions and Recommendations on the Decision to Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination

Robert T. Hasty, DO; Samuel Snyder, DO; Gabriel P. Suciu, MSPH, PhD; and Jaclynn M. Moskow, BPhil, OMS IV
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: February 1, 2011

Accepted: September 21, 2011

Published: February 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(2): 83-89

Context: Osteopathic medical students have a choice to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in addition to the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA). However, taking the USMLE requires additional commitments of time, effort, and expense, often for uncertain return. No data are available about the attitudes of graduating osteopathic medical students toward their options regarding the USMLE and how they decide whether to take this examination.

Objectives: To uncover attitudes among graduating osteopathic medical students on taking the USMLE.

Methods: Using an Internet-based questionnaire, the authors surveyed graduating osteopathic medical students about their experiences with deciding whether to take the USMLE and whether they would advise other students to take the examination.

Results: Nineteen osteopathic medical colleges agreed to participate in the survey. Of the 2744 graduating students at those schools, 978 (35.7%) completed the survey. Students in higher quintiles (ie, top 40%) of class rank were more likely to take the USMLE than those in lower quintiles (ie, bottom 40%) (P<.001). The most common reason cited by students for taking the USMLE was to “keep [their] options open” for residencies (233 of 507 respondents [46%]). Of the 474 students who did not take the USMLE, 171 respondents (36.1%) reported experiencing discrimination for not taking the examination. Four hundred seventy of 981 respondents (47.9%) reported finding residency programs that specifically require the USMLE, and 689 of 981 respondents (70.2%) recommended that future students take at least 1 step of the USMLE.

Conclusions: The majority of graduating osteopathic medical students polled in the present study believed that osteopathic medical students should take the USMLE.

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