Since the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality, the NBOME has accelerated our research, development and piloting of alternate test delivery options for NBOME assessments. We implemented COMAT-Self-proctored test form options for Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, with initial use in late March and widespread implementation in April. In late March, we also launched COMSAE Phase 2 (self-assessments) on our CATALYST longitudinal assessment platform, available to DO students online.
With Prometric Test Centers closed through April, and the limited opening of Prometric Centers in areas of the country where essential services testing was permitted starting May 1, and to be best prepared in the event of any further “second wave” of pandemic activity closing test centers later in 2020 or the winter, we have continued to explore alternate test delivery options for COMLEX-USA exams, including remote proctoring at sites other than Prometric Centers. We are piloting remote proctoring with our COMSAE program in May. We do not envision the current COMLEX-USA Level 2-PE examination, which assesses fundamental clinical skills including physical exam skills and OMT, to be administered remotely or outside of NBOME’s National Centers for Clinical Skills Testing, but have a team exploring the changes that may be needed for this exam as well.
For the COMLEX-USA administration, our objective is to provide candidates the opportunity to complete their examination and demonstrate their competency for licensure as promptly and as safely as possible. As COMLEX-USA is a licensing examination, we are entrusted to ensure that any solution is not only timely, but assures the integrity of the examination program, that it remains valid for this purpose, preserving the reliability, defensibility and fairness of the examination. COMLEX-USA is entrusted in every state for medical licensure for DOs, therefore the integrity of the examination is of paramount concern. We have appreciated the overwhelming support of the colleges of osteopathic medicine and other stakeholders in sharing ideas for solutions and feedback.
In conjunction with identifying supplemental avenues for testing, we continue to listen and collaborate with organizations and individuals in the medical education and the medical regulatory community to address this disruption and its effects, both professionally and personally, for our candidates. Some solutions may involve temporary changes at colleges of osteopathic medicine and residency programs to policy and/or requirements, e.g., relaxing requirements for promotion, graduation, residency applications, or licensing decisions.
We recognize this is yet another stressor in the wake of this pandemic. We empathize with the unique circumstances of osteopathic medical students and residents, and indeed all of us in healthcare, medical education, and our world. We will continue to provide updated communications regularly, and are committed to an update on alternate test administration options by May 30.