Relationship of Clinical Skills Performance in Medical School With COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation

Shiyuan Wang, PhD, and Pamela Basehore, MPH, EdD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: September 19, 2019

Accepted: October 9, 2019

Published: April 1, 2020

J Osteopath Med; 120(4): 245-252

Context: Osteopathic medical students are required to pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination-USA (COMLEX-USA) Levels 1- and 2-Cognitive Evaluation and COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation (PE) to graduate. Predictors of COMLEX-USA cognitive exam performance are well established, but relatively few studies have explored factors associated with performance on the Level 2-PE.

Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between school-based clinical competency assessments (written, simulation, and workplace evaluations) and Level 2-PE performance to ensure that these assessment efforts are effective and grounded in evidence to support student readiness.

Methods: School-based performance measures for 451 first-time takers of COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE were analyzed. A series of Mann-Whitney analyses were applied to compare 3 types of clinical performance assessments against COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE pass-fail performance: (1) internal objective structured clinical examinations (OSCE; average discipline-specific OSCE score and a comprehensive OSCE); (2) national examination performance (average clinical subject Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Achievement Test, or COMAT, scores and Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Self-Assessment Examination, or COMSAE, Phase 2 scores); and (3) a workplace-based clinical evaluation by preceptors.

Results: Students who passed the Level 2-PE had a significantly higher average discipline-specific OSCE score, COMSAE Phase 2 performance score, average COMAT score, and individual subject COMAT scores in all subjects except Psychiatry. Students who passed the Level 2-PE humanistic domain also had significantly higher scores in the communication skill component of the school’s comprehensive OSCE. Similarly, students who passed the Level 2-PE biomedical domain had significantly higher scores in the data gathering and subjective, objective, assessment, and plan documentation scores on the internal OSCE. The size of these differences (η2) was relatively small. Student performance on the competency-based preceptor evaluation showed no significant relationship with pass-fail performance on the Level 2-PE.

Conclusions: High-stakes OSCEs aligned with the level 2-PE blueprint are effective predictors of performance and are an important way to support student readiness for the Level 2-PE. Other assessments, such as subject-based COMATs and COMSAE Phase 2, add value to school-based assessments over workplace-based assessments.

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