There are two separate national board examination pathways to obtain state licensure as a physician in the U.S. Osteopathic medical students take the COMLEX, and allopathic medical students take the USMLE. Although these examinations are similar in timing and structure, the osteopathic COMLEX examination is unique in testing osteopathic philosophy, evaluation and treatment.
COMLEX Part 1: Osteopathic medical students take the COMLEX examination at the end of their second year in order to begin the third year clinical rotations. For the past seven years, the COMLEX Level I pass rate for first-time takers averages more than 4% above the national pass rate.
COMLEX Part 2: Exam is taken by all COM students during their fourth year and is divided into the COMLEX CE (cognitive exam) and COMLEX PE (performance exam). Osteopathic medicine students must complete and pass both components of COMLEX Part 2 prior to graduation from Des Moines University. For the past five years, the COMLEX Level II-CE pass rate for first-time takers averages nearly 5% above the national pass rate.
COMLEX Part 3 is taken during the first year of post-graduate or residency training.
Some osteopathic medicine students choose to take the USMLE examination, however it is not required by DMU or necessary to obtain a license to practice osteopathic medicine in the U.S.