NBOME for Osteopathic Physicians

The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners

The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners is a private independent nonprofit organization. Its mission is to protect the public against incompetent osteopathic physician practice by designing and administering competency assessments. The National Board is, in other words, a professional testing organization focusing on osteopathic medicine. While the National Board does not license osteopathic physicians, state licensing boards rely on the National Board's testing. Specifically, the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners administers the COMLEX-USA series of licensing examinations for osteopathic physicians, otherwise known as the NBOME. The National Board's terms and conditions for the NBOME exam create challenges for students in osteopathic medical programs and graduates in osteopathic residency programs, sitting for and passing the NBOME. Retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you meet and overcome those challenges.

What Is the NBOME?

While the acronym NBOME technically stands for “National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners,” and some use the acronym to refer to that organization, NBOME more commonly stands for the series of licensing examinations that the organization designs and administers. The National Board gives a different name, COMLEX-USA, to that series of licensing examinations, although again, many will simply use the organization's acronym NBOME to refer to that series of exams. The NBOME or COMLEX-USA series of licensing exams, taken both during the osteopathic medical education as step exams and during or after residency, includes:

  • the COMLEX-USA Level 1 400-question, mostly multiple-choice exam taken during the student's osteopathic medical education;
  • the COMLEX-USA Level 2 CE 400-question, mostly multiple-choice exam is also taken during the student's osteopathic medical education; and
  • the COMLEX-USA Level 3 two-day exam involving 420 multiple-choice questions, clinical decision-making cases, and other novel test item formats.

Who Must Take the NBOME?

The NBOME is the series of exams osteopathic physicians must pass to gain state licensure for osteopathic medical practice. Osteopaths must pass the NBOME to get a state license to practice medicine. All U.S. states and jurisdictions accept the NBOME for licensing osteopathic physicians. Osteopaths who do not qualify to sit for the NBOME or cannot pass the exam once qualified will not get a license and can not practice medicine. However, they may find alternative careers in public health and medical administration, using their osteopathic medical education. The National Board permits examinees to make only four attempts at each level of the NBOME exam, meaning that each time counts. If you find yourself unable to sit for any part of the NBOME exam or otherwise at risk of failing the exam due to an accusation of cheating or other irregularity, retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you meet and overcome that challenge. Preserve your laudable ambition and enormous investment to practice osteopathic medicine.

Qualifying to Take the NBOME

The National Board does not permit a candidate to take any Level 1, 2, or 3 NBOME exam unless the candidate can prove the candidate's good academic and professional standing. For NBOME Level 1 and 2 exams, the student must supply an attestation of good academic and professional standing from the student's college of osteopathic medicine. For NBOME Level 3 exams, the resident must supply an attestation of good academic and professional standing from the residency program director. These requirements mean that to even sit for the NBOME, you must avoid the things that can derail a professional education. Your college of osteopathic medicine will have some form of student code of conduct, like the one included in the Student Handbook for Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine. Violating one or more of those student code provisions can lead to discipline for academic or professional misconduct. School discipline can prevent you from sitting for the NBOME. Student codes of conduct for osteopathic medicine programs routinely include prohibitions against:

  • Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct;
  • cheating, plagiarism, and other forms of academic misconduct;
  • alcohol or drug abuse interfering with school activities;
  • disruptive or disorderly conduct interfering with the classroom or campus;
  • unprofessional conduct toward peers, support staff, and supervisors;
  • violence or threats of violence, including domestic violence;
  • trespass, misuse of school computers, and vandalism; and
  • other criminal conduct such as drunk driving or drug crimes.

Fighting School Discipline to Qualify for the NBOME

Just because your osteopathic medicine program charges you with behavioral misconduct doesn't mean that those charges will end up in your school record and keep you from sitting for the NBOME. Charges are simply a way of initiating disciplinary proceedings. With skilled and effective attorney advisor representation, you may be able to defend and defeat those disciplinary charges. Colleges of osteopathic medicine have protective procedures to ensure that students accused of misconduct can prove those charges false or exaggerated or that other circumstances should mitigate any potential penalty. The Policies and Procedures for Alleged Code of Conduct Violations at Nova Southeastern University's College of Osteopathic Medicine are an example, requiring that college disciplinary officials provide fair notice to the accused student and an opportunity for a hearing. The procedures typically provide some opportunity not only to testify on one's behalf but also to call other witnesses and offer documentary evidence. These protective procedures, though, are not self-executing. Your success will likely depend on retaining skilled and experienced academic administrative defense representation. If you face disciplinary charges in your osteopathic medicine program, retain national school discipline defense attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat those charges so that they do not prevent you from sitting for the NBOME.

NBOME Disqualification for Unsatisfactory Academic Progress

You must also maintain satisfactory academic progress to get the requisite letter of good academic standing from your college of osteopathic medicine or residency director to sit for the NBOME exam. Your college of osteopathic medicine will have satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards like those at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Federal student loan regulations require that schools receiving federal funding enforce those SAP standards. Osteopathic colleges cannot just give students a free pass when their grades, course failures, incompletes, or withdrawals show that they cannot meet the college's academic standards. SAP standards