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Match report sheds light on credentials needed to secure residencies

Osteopathic medical students who are wondering whether they have the credentials and scores to match into particular AOA-approved specialty residencies now have a resource they can tap—Osteopathic GME Match Report 2009, published this fall by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM).

For each of 21 specialties, the report presents data from 2009 on graduates who matched into their first-choice residencies and those who did not snag their first choice. The measures include scores and passing rates on the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX)—USA and the depth of research, volunteer and other experiences logged by those who matched.

Graduates who secured first-choice matches into diagnostic radiology residencies, for example, had the highest mean score on COMLEX-USA Level 1—570. In contrast, those matching into psychiatry had the lowest mean score for Level 1—441. Family medicine residents had the broadest range of scores on this exam component: a low of 231 to a high of 722.

Source: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

While 92.9% of graduates matching into either family medicine or internal medicine passed COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation (PE) on the first attempt, only 70% of the psychiatry residents did so. Those matching into the two most competitive specialties as defined by the number of first-choice applicants per position—ophthalmology and anesthesiology—had perfect first-attempt passing rates for all three components of COMLEX.

Trainees who matched into neurological surgery had the most research and publishing experience but the least volunteer experience. In comparison, those matching into opthlalmology residencies volunteered the most.

“The report is a great tool for students to see the relative competitiveness of each specialty and what scores and experiences they would need to match into certain specialties,” notes Cristin John Mathew, OMS IV, who attends the Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine—Virginia Campus in Blacksburg.

Mathew says that the report reinforced his decision to specialize in orthopedic surgery and provided guidance on the relative weight orthopedic surgery residencies place on research and volunteer experience.

The report will be even more useful for students in the first two years of osteopathic medical school, as they allocate their time toward studying for COMLEX-USA, volunteering for community service projects and medical missions, and other activities, Mathew says.

Not just primary care

Beyond the statistics on graduates matching into particular specialties, “the OGME match report provides a positive glimpse of the profession’s big picture,” says Joseph L. Borup, OMS III, a student at the A. T. Still University of Health Sciences-Kirksville (Mo.) College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Before entering med school on a naval scholarship, Borup served the U.S. Navy as a hospital administrator, liaison for graduate medical education, and point of contact for all active-duty personnel interested in becoming physicians. “Many people I dealt with had the mistaken idea that all osteopathic physicians go into primary care,” Borup points out. “In the match report, the profession has an excellent resource for promoting the profession to premed students because it shows the number of DOs entering a wide range of specialties, from anesthesiology to otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery.”

13 Responses

  1. JoeDO on Dec. 23, 2011, 6:43 p.m.

    Wow, even the most competitive specialties averages don’t break 580. And how do the NMM/OMT have better average than Anes, EM, and gen surg.

  2. Godfried on Dec. 23, 2011, 9:09 p.m.

    ^ NMM/OMT scores may be high because there is so much of it on the exam…students interested in it presumably may excel in those areas? Might be a leap but this may highlight the importance of osteopathic principles on the COMLEX. I would imagine if you compared USMLE scores of students who matched ACGME Anes, EM, Gen surg to students who went into NMM/OMM (if they bothered taking the exam) it would tell a different story.

  3. T.McGraw,D.O. on Jan. 4, 2012, noon

    It would appear that our profession is more helpful to our students/graduates that in the past. T.McGraw,D.O.,KCOM’64

  4. B-Diddy on Jan. 6, 2012, 2:40 p.m.

    The OMM residency scores are higher because anyone worth their salt in Anesthesia/ER/Gen Surg go ACGME. No one voluntarily goes AOA anesthesia. However for OMM, obviously AOA is the only route, add that to the fact that those interested do well on the exam due to it’s heavy OMM base while the rest of us think the COMLEX is a joke. Actually having taken both I can say for certain, COMLEX is a joke.

  5. Neal Chamberlain on Jan. 6, 2012, 5:58 p.m.

    I realize that in many forums people are quite frank in their comments. However, I advise med students that it is a small world they are entering. Many physicians have donated many hours at their own expense to create a COMLEX exam they feel is appropriate for a future licensed physician to pass. Calling their efforts a joke is not good.

  6. B-Diddy on Jan. 6, 2012, 6:55 p.m.

    Dr. Chamberlain, first I apologize for the sensationalism and disrespectful post on my part. I still hold that I believe the USMLE is a superior test. However I understand many people put a lot of time and effort to create the test, which must be a difficult task.

  7. ej on Jan. 6, 2012, 10:51 p.m.

    this is actually really annoying to me. It completely depends on the individual residency programs, of course. I contacted a general surgery residency director at pcom and he said the avg board 1 score they accepted that year before was 620.

    These numbers make me think the data was collected in similar fashion to research methods in the osteopathic research community – very low numbers of subjects, as in here I am thinking maybe one of the bottom rung programs seems to be contacted for each of these specialties.

  8. C Mathew on Jan. 22, 2012, 5:08 p.m.


    The data collected by AACOM and the AOA consisted of all the residency information from the match. This would exclude anyone from the ACGME match and those that prematch. In regards to the program director saying the the average board score was 620, they may have had a few candidates that did extremely well that increased their average scores. Be aware that many program directors may also inflate their scores.
    Regardless, the match report is a complete report of all the major AOA residencies. The only ones that were not included in the report were a few residency sub-specialty programs that have such few residents that their scores could be identified with their program. Best of luck in your pursuits.

  9. Mike Cooper on May 28, 2012, 1:45 p.m.

    I wondering if there is any way to see a chart like this for each graduating class. I know a lot of my fellow classmates and I would love to see trend lines and how residency competition changes from year to year. The comments about what else to have on your resume are very interesting for the more competitive residencies.

    I know in the first few pages of First Aid for the USMLE shows a chart like this plus standard deviation. A chart like that would be awesome for the Comlex! It might also help some residency directors in ACGME match programs better understand the scoring. I know some have openly admitted they don’t understand our scores.

  10. Mp on July 16, 2012, 7:40 p.m.

    I just got my Comlex score so naturally I turned to the internets to see how my score measured up as compared to specialty averages. Since this match occurred in 2009, would I be wrong to say that these scores come from a 2007 or 2008 exam?

    I think graphs like these are helpful in putting your score into perspective but similar to the osteopathic philosophy, I would like to think that the whole part of the pre resident’s application is looked at and not just the Comlex score.

  11. Patrick Sinco, managing editor on July 17, 2012, 10:41 a.m.

    Hi, Mp.

    Yes, you would be right in thinking that the scores are from a few years earlier.

  12. SkinD on July 22, 2014, 5:18 p.m.

    I imagine if dermatology had been included in this report that it would have had pretty high average scores. It also probably has the most, or at least close to, the most publications.

  13. anthony ferretti on Aug. 15, 2014, 7:12 a.m.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the stats are from 2009 the next match will be 2015. There are more graduates and in some specialties less slots, look at these numbers as the minimum not a goal.

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