The vice president of clinical skills testing shared how first and second year osteopathic
medicine students can prepare for the important exam.
First and second year doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) students were recently given an overview of COMLEX-USA Level 2 PE (performance evaluation)
testing from Gretta Gross, DO ‘97, MEd, vice president for clinical skills testing
for the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). Dr. Gross, a graduate
of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), discussed the mission of the NBOME and ways to prepare for this exam which assesses
the fundamental clinical skills necessary to enter into supervised graduate medical
The NBOME, founded in 1934, is an independent, nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization
with the mission of protecting the public by assessing competencies for osteopathic
medicine and related healthcare professions. The COMLEX-USA series is the primary
pathway to licensure for physicians seeking to practice osteopathic medicine and surgery.
Dr. Gross explained that the performance evaluation is a standardized patient-based
assessment of fundamental clinical skills essential for osteopathic patient care,
while the COMLEX-USA Level 2 CE (cognitive evaluation) test is a computer-based application
of osteopathic medical knowledge concepts related to clinical sciences, patient presentations
and physician tasks.
To take the level 2 PE and CE tests, students must have completed their second year
at an accredited college of osteopathic medicine, must have passed the COMLEX-USA
Level 1 exam following their second year of medical school, and be in good academic
and professional standing at their school.
According to Dr. Gross, the performance evaluation occurs at two NBOME testing centers—one
in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and the other in Chicago,
Illinois. The test takes place during a six hour period and includes 12 standardized
patient-based cases allowing 14 minutes for each patient encounter plus nine minutes
to document findings in an e-SOAP note also known as a Subjective Objective Assessment
Plan format. In addition, she said, 15-minute breaks take place after every four patient
encounters stretching the time at the testing center to seven hours.
Dr. Gross explained that the exam, which tests whether or not students can demonstrate
competency in the fundamental clinical skills and related competencies, is graded
in two domains – the humanistic domain which tests physician/patient communication
and interpersonal skills, as well as professionalism, and the biomedical/biomechanical
domain which tests medical history taking and physical exam skills, documentation
skills and osteopathic manipulative treatment. The exam, scored by 30 individuals,
is “not designed to provide feedback,” she said as results are provided solely as
pass/fail and reported one to two months following the test.
The most common ways students prepare for the test, she explained, are through clinical
rotations, standardized patient encounters, books and courses on physical diagnosis,
as well as a level 2 prep course. But the basics of preparation include reviewing
the NBOME website, reading the orientation guide, watching the NBOME video and practicing
with SOAP notes.
Dr. Gross explained that the pass rate for the exam is historically between 92 and
93 percent. She said that students usually prefer to take the exam between the spring
of their third year and the summer of their fourth year while the exam is offered
year round. She advised students to consider scheduling the exam, which costs $1,295,
as soon as they are eligible as seats are released on a rolling basis one year in
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated
to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia
College of Osteopathic Medicine, a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied
history. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and
physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science,
and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM
Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service
to the wider community. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center,
an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment.
For more information, visit pcom.edu/georgia or call 678-225-7500.
For more information, contact: Barbara Myers Senior Public Relations Manager Email: BarbaraMy@pcom.edu Office: 678-225-7532 | Cell: