Context: The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is not required for osteopathic students to match into postgraduate programs; however, it is unknown if taking the test improves their chances of matching.
Objectives: Our objective was to determine the association between taking the USMLE Step 1 and matching into the applicant’s preferred specialty for senior osteopathic students applying to the 10 specialties to which students applied most in 2020.
Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of the free and publicly available 2020 National Residency Match Program (NRMP) published match report for senior osteopathic students. First, we determined the number of senior osteopathic students that matched into their preferred specialty vs those that did not and stratified them by reported completion of the USMLE Step 1 within each specialty. Next, we calculated odds ratios (ORs) within each specialty for senior osteopathic students matching into their preferred specialty with and without the USMLE Step 1 utilizing the Fisher’s exact test. Finally, we repeated the analysis with only senior osteopathic students who had reported USMLE Step 1 scores in ranges including or below the mean for those who matched in their specialty.
Results: For senior osteopathic students, reported completion of the USMLE Step 1 was associated with matching for those who applied to Internal Medicine (OR 3.3 [95% confidence interval 2.07 to 5.48]), Emergency Medicine (2.1 [1.35 to 3.17]), Pediatrics (4.4 [1.38 to 18.63]), Psychiatry (2.5 [1.34 to 4.98]), Anesthesiology (3.4 [1.57 to 7.32]), and General Surgery (3.1 [1.56 to 6.14]). After repeating the analysis with only senior osteopathic students who reported low USMLE Step 1 scores, the association remained significant for those who applied to Internal Medicine (2.5 [1.49 to 4.28]), Anesthesiology (2.6 [1.17 to 5.54]), and General Surgery (2.5 [1.24 to 5.04]).
Conclusions: In 2020, reported completion of the USMLE Step 1 by senior osteopathic students was associated with matching for those who applied to Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Anesthesiology, and General Surgery. In addition, reported completion of the USMLE Step 1 with a low score was associated with matching for those who applied to Internal Medicine, Anesthesiology, and General Surgery.