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NBOME

A Letter From Our President and CEO

UPDATED OCTOBER 8, 2020

First and foremost, I want to wish you well and continued good health and success as you pursue your goal becoming a licensed DO and I welcome you as a colleague in our very distinctive profession. The trust implicit in a patient referring to YOU as “my doctor” is hard to win, and can be easily lost.

First and foremost, I want to wish you well and continued good health and success as you pursue your goal becoming a licensed DO and I welcome you as a colleague in our very distinctive profession.  The trust implicit in a patient referring to YOU as “my doctor” is hard to win, and can be easily lost.

All of us at the NBOME have been working hard to tackle the many challenges brought on by the pandemic, and mitigating disruptions as you progress along your pathway to becoming fully qualified, licensed osteopathic physicians.  We do hear you.  We know that you are concerned about your health and the safety of your communities, with interferences in your education and training, and with your application process to residency programs. In addition, we know you share in the many other concerns, insecurities, and responsibilities commensurate with becoming a qualified physician.

We certainly understand that DO medical students, particularly those in the Class of 2021, are under an inordinate and unfair amount of stress with the uncertainty we all have faced this year. We are proud of the work that has been done in collaboration with Prometric Testing Centers to help accommodate almost 19K DO students and residents safely since May.  This required significant resource investment, including satellite university centers and other agile solutions to expand test capacity, and we are proud of our staff and our partners.  Listening to you, safe access to your licensure testing has remained a top priority.

Likewise with the COMLEX-USA Level 2-Performance Evaluation (Level 2-PE/clinical skills examination), disruptions were caused by the pandemic and necessitated the suspension of access to testing since March 2020. We recognized the need for DO students in the Class of 2021 and their Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) to have choice and control as to when to test, once availability to safely do so was resumed. NBOME enthusiastically endorsed the June 4, 2020 decision by the AOA-Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, the accrediting authority for the COMs, to temporarily modify the graduation standard that required passing Level 2-PE for the Class of 2021. This provides students and COMs the flexibility to delay individual testing for Level 2-PE, should access not be available to them, or should they feel unready to do so for any reason. Students this year can opt to delay taking this test for months, a year, even more, and still have no delay in progressing through graduation, into residency. When ready, they can then complete the Level 2-PE prior to taking COMLEX-USA Level 3 to demonstrate their important competencies for practice and full qualification for unrestricted medical licensure in any state.

Our goal all spring and summer was to continue to work with public health experts and other testing and medical and related healthcare regulatory authorities both in the United States and around the world, to eventually provide availability to safely take Level 2-PE, for those who are eligible and ready. At present, we continue to aim for the availability of Level 2-PE testing in November, 2020, as we monitor local and national circumstances and changing mandates due to the pandemic. The safety modifications (further detailed on our website) at our test centers follow local governmental mandates and the standards and recommendations of several teams of public health and infectious disease specialists, including those from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. Consultations with the medical and other health professions in the United States and internationally have been very helpful. Similar national clinical skills exams have resumed in Canada (Medical Council of Canada), the UK (General Medical Council), and in the U.S. with the podiatric medicine, optometry, and chiropractic professions, all with similar safety protocols.

With 25% of the graduating Class of 2021 already having passed Level 2-PE, this leaves us with a fairly manageable number of candidates in this class to test at our two National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing (suburban Philadelphia and Chicago areas.) An estimated 56% of these students attend COMs that are within 8 hours or less driving distance from one of these two testing centers, and 22% are 4 hours or less by car. To further increase availability and provide easier access for DO students in the western regions of the US, the NBOME is continuing to invest considerable resources in the exploration and development of a temporary satellite clinical skills testing location in California. This could potentially be available for testing for a defined time period as soon as March, 2021. We have frozen exam fee increases for the current test cycle and eliminated any exam rescheduling fees to further enhance flexibility for DO candidates.

NBOME stays in close contact with student leadership groups, including COSGP, SOMA, and the AOA-Bureau of Emerging Leaders.  We continue to solicit their input on key issues.  We very much appreciate these individuals and groups sharing student concerns and helping to communicate the facts during a period of growing misinformation and misconception across the profession. We regret that misinformation has been disseminated about our activities and motivations by third parties. We know that misinformation can jeopardize trust and contribute to feelings of disillusionment and further feelings of lack of control.

These student leader groups are aware of NBOME’s leadership role in advocacy for DO students in the Class of 2021 as they apply for residency programs, helping program directors to understand that residency applicants in the Class of 2021 should not be held accountable for results of licensing exam scores (e.g., COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE for DO medical students, USMLE Step 2-CS for MD medical students) that they have been unable to take due to the pandemic. The Organization of Program Director Associations (OPDA) and the Assembly of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Educators (AOGME) both endorsed statements to that effect, at the request of the NBOME, which were both shared with the Coalition for Physician Accountability. NBOME and AACOM worked together with the Advisory Committee of the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) to ensure that all residency program directors are aware that both USMLE Step 2-CS and COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE have both been suspended since March 2020. This information is displayed prominently on all applications in the Program Directors Work Station in the ERAS system, on all COMLEX-USA and USMLE transcripts displayed in ERAS, and is part of separate communications from ERAS sent to all program directors in 2020-2021.

We remain committed to doing our best, despite the obstacles, to communicate, to listen to input, and to continue to do what we can to mitigate disruptions in the educational and training pathway to DO medical licensure, all consistent with our mission to protect the public, to protect our patients, through assessment. More than ever, it’s important we work together through the multi-dimensional stages of this pandemic and the complexities of the pandemic recovery. We need to continue to build trust within the osteopathic medical family so we can continue to earn that same trust with our patients, who look to DOs for a high quality, empathetic and distinctive approach to medical care.

Please continue to stay tuned for the latest NBOME and COMLEX-USA updates and information on our website, or feel free to contact NBOME Client Services for any individual needs or queries at Clientservices@nbome.org or toll-free at 866-479-6828, Monday through Friday 7 AM-7 PM ET.

Sincerely yours,

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd
President & CEO
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners

MAY 15, 2020

As we come to the half-way point in the month of May and have resumed testing at many Prometric testing centers, we have some updates to share related to the COMLEX-USA Level 1, 2-CE and Level 3 examinations. NBOME continues to be committed to providing support to candidates, colleges of osteopathic medicine, and other stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OUR COM LIAISON TEAM IS WORKING TO ENSURE "NO CANDIDATE IS LEFT BEHIND"

The NBOME COM Liaison team is continuously monitoring the situation and keeping COMs and their students informed. Appointment availability does fluctuate as candidates make changes to their appointments, and Prometric updates test site availability, which remains subject to ongoing modifications to governmental regulations.

NBOME's COM Liaison team reached out to all 51 COM campuses to provide information on eligible COMLEX-USA candidates on May 6, 2020. We have been actively working with the 38 COMs who responded to our offer for assistance and are working to troubleshoot individual candidate scheduling issues. This week, the team sent initial comprehensive reports to 5 COMs, and by next week, all COMs will receive a scheduling report and follow-up.

OUR CANDIDATES

  • 5,975 NBOME candidates' COMLEX-USA Levels 1, 2-CE and 3 appointments in May-June were displaced by government-mandated center closures.
  • 5,587 of these displaced candidates were Level 1 and Level 2-CE candidates.
  • 85% (4,735) of displaced Level 1 and Level 2-CE candidates have been rescheduled. Some have elected to not reschedule yet.
  • 95% of all Level 1 and Level 2-CE rescheduled appointments are between May-August.
  • 190 COMLEX-USA testing appointments have already been completed since the centers reopened in May.
  • 52% of Level 3 candidates have been rescheduled through May, with June reschedules being processed on a rolling basis.

PROMETRIC CENTERS

Only essential test takers, which includes COMLEX-USA candidates, are currently testing in Prometric testing centers.

  • 118 Prometric sites opened in 34 states + DC on May 1.
  • 263 Prometric sites in the US reopened or will be open by the end of this week.
  • 306 sites (over 80%) of sites are scheduled and expected to reopen (with social distancing mandates in place) by June 1, subject to further changes in governmental restrictions.
  • Expanded hours including Sunday testing is adding to capacity and will be extended through 2020.

COMLEX-USA ALTERNATE TEST DELIVERY FOR COMPUTER-BASED TESTING

In response to COVID-19's impact on the safety and feasibility involved in taking examinations at Prometric test centers, the NBOME is actively exploring options for alternate test delivery. Delivering high-stakes examinations outside of test centers involves careful planning to mitigate risks to security, administration, and psychometrics of the examinations. The NBOME is dedicated to rapidly addressing these concerns while continuing to administer exams that are secure, fair, valid, reliable and defensible.

To ensure success, the NBOME is pursuing multiple options simultaneously, including the delivery of examinations through remote proctoring available anywhere, and administering examinations at COMs. We have connected with Prometric, other testing vendors, peer organizations such as NBME and our international colleagues, to assure that every potential solution is investigated on an unprecedented timeline. We have already started testing the feasibility of remote-proctored examination solutions. We aim to partner with COMs within the next month to evaluate options for examination administration at COMs. This multi-pronged approach will allow us to gather information that enables us to determine the best solution for our key stakeholders, including candidates, COMs, state licensing authorities, and the public.

As an organization, we are working around the clock to evaluate and potentially implement alternate test delivery options, as necessary, for both short-term and long-term needs.

We plan to publish another update by May 30 with a decision on the feasibility of alternative options potentially as early as June 30, 2020.

SCORE RELEASE DATES

The score release dates for candidates taking COMLEX-USA Level 1 from May 5 to June 26,2020 are anticipated to be slightly longer than usual (by 1-2 weeks) to allow sufficient time to statistically validate candidate performance for the new Level 1 testing cycle. The additional time allows for a reliable scoring process, and is dependent on the number of candidates who test in a given period. Therefore, these dates reflect our best prediction of anticipated numbers of examinations administered in this testing window.

We will update score release dates if needed as new information is available as a result of further reductions in testing administrations caused by government-mandated site closures or social distancing policies. Please see the COMLEX-USA Level 1 pages for updated specific score release information. At this time we do not anticipate any change to the score release dates for COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE. Please see the COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE pages for score release dates.

Sincerely,

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd
President and CEO
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners


MAY 8, 2020

We want to provide a brief update on several very active initiatives we know are of acute interest to our community.

The first update concerns COMLEX-USA testing at Prometric test centers. Over 90% of previously displaced candidates have been successfully rescheduled - many into dates within 1-2 months, and almost all by August 31, 2020. Our COM Liaison team is actively engaging our contacts at each and every COM to answer questions and assist any candidates without a rescheduled appointment.

While these early indicators provide a positive outlook, there is still a lot of flux in the appointment system and we remain dependent on governmental requirements. We continue to be optimistic that all those who desire to test will be able to do so within a reasonable time frame. We appreciate your patience and want to thank all of the Deans and Candidates who have reached out, either personally or publically, to acknowledge our efforts. The Prometric scheduling system will remain dynamic, and may be further impacted in the coming months by factors related to COVID-19. Please know our expanded Client Services Team is available 7 AM-7PM ET Monday through Friday to assist you at 866.479.6828 or ClientServices@nbome.org.

Simultaneously, the NBOME is aggressively exploring alternate test delivery options for computer-based assessments. Our most recent update can be found here. The NBOME is in active pilot testing with several options in the event further complications of COVID-19 impact testing. We continue to work tirelessly with our international partners on this initiative, and remain committed to providing regular updates to our community (and a formal update no later than May 30, 2020.)

Further information about modifications to COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE testing at our two National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing, scheduled to resume in June, is expected to be communicated to you by May 18.

Finally, we would like to extend our best wishes to a few very special groups of people this week. We salute the DO graduating Class of 2020, as well as those at the COMs supporting them. Many virtual graduation ceremonies are being held this week despite challenges brought on by the pandemic. "DO good", and always remember "it's about the patient!" We also honor all Mothers...who include some of our graduates as well as many of our Deans, NBOME Board members, National Faculty and Staff members.  Your endless love and tireless balancing of your professional work with your commitment to families and others at home is an inspiration for us all. Happy Mother's Day 2020!

Sincerely,

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd
President and CEO
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners


MAY 1, 2020

The NBOME is doing everything we can to keep individuals and our communities safe, while also trying to meet everyone’s needs and expectations during very trying times. We applaud all of the work done by AACOM, the Deans and COMs to ensure that effective teaching, learning, and assessment continues, albeit under predominantly virtual circumstances, as required to meet governmental mandates and best scientific guidelines in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now on to the good news…May 1 is the planned partial reopening date at select Prometric Test Centers around the country, as allowed by local regulations.  Information can be found on our microsite for COMLEX-USA Level 1 and 2-CE and COMLEX-USA Level 3 candidates. Regrettably, the candidate experience has been confusing regarding Prometric’s reopening. We are here to help. As always, candidates can contact NBOME Client services by phone (866.479.6828) 7AM-7PM Monday through Friday or via email ClientServices@nbome.org. We have been actively exploring potential alternate delivery options for computer-based testing, including remote proctoring options at sites outside of Prometric.

For the COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE, we remain hopeful that we will restart testing June 1. We plan to make modifications to test protocols to enhance safety of candidates and staff, and further communications will be released in the coming weeks.

We appreciate all of your feedback and engagement and hope that your lives become less complicated over time with successful reopening of businesses, campuses, clinical learning environments, and, of course, COMLEX-USA testing.  We wish you the best as well as you celebrate many “virtual graduation ceremonies” around the country, and our very proud of you and the highly successful national graduating DO Class of 2020. Thanks for all you DO!

Sincerely,

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd
President and CEO
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners


MARCH 20, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is putting extraordinary stress on our personal and professional lives. We at NBOME understand and appreciate what everyone is doing across the osteopathic medical community and within our other partner organizations. We want to thank you for all you are doing on behalf of your educational and clinical communities during this challenging time.  As we shift to alternate ways to communicate, share, educate, and assess, the NBOME is dedicated to supporting our stakeholders through this unprecedented time.

We have made some significant changes and enhancements to our assessment programs as of this date:

  • Worked with candidates regarding the closing of Prometric testing centers through April 16, 2020 (COMLEX-USA Levels 1, 2-CE, 3, COMVEX, COMAT at Prometric)
  • Cancelled COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE examinations through April 6, 2020
  • Waived all rescheduling fees for COMLEX-USA examinations
  • Rescheduling priority has focused on students preparing for 2020 graduation.
  • Continued NBOME operations (both remotely and on site) – includes Client Services 7 AM- 7 PM EDT (M-F)- clientservices@nbome.org or  866.479.6828
  • NBOME Learning Center which includes multiple educational activities (many free or low cost for osteopathic medical students: nbome.org
  • Developed a microsite to communicate updates as they are available.

And coming soon, the NBOME will continue to support you all with:

  • Launch of COMSAE on CATALYST by March 26, 2020 – a self-paced version of COMSAE Phase 2 offering short-question content at flexible, pre-determined intervals, providing immediate feedback, answer rationales, and related reference material
  • Introduction of self-proctored delivery options for COMAT examinations (COMAT-SP) to allow off-campus administrations of select COMAT test forms coordinated by COMs. Anticipate availability March 30, 2020
  • Development of new teaching and formative assessment resources to add to the NBOME Learning Center: ilearn.nbome.org
  • New testing date availability for all levels of COMLEX-USA to assist with candidate rescheduling once testing centers reopened

AT Still, MD, DO, the founder of osteopathic medicine, spoke regularly about the body’s innate capacity to heal itself and that DOs needed to partner with patients and their bodies, minds and spirits to find and maintain health. As we temporarily shift our lives to elevate efforts for social distancing, we are reminded to take care of each other and ourselves. The NBOME will assist in any way we can to partner with you all for your assessment needs.  We are continuing our work to support you and our mission during the social distancing period, and when we can resume regular testing, the NBOME will be ready.

Sincerely,

John R. Gimpel, DO, MEd
President and CEO
National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners


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