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Special Note to DO Applicants

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The AAMC is committed to helping all applicants develop a smart residency application strategy. To that end, we have provided as much data as possible to support DO students and graduates as you research and apply to ACGME-accredited residency programs. For DO applicants, we are able to provide entrance rates, by Step 1 score tercile, for all of the specialties included in the study, and we are able to assess the point of diminishing returns for some of those specialties. For other specialties, however, we are not able to reliably estimate the point of diminishing returns due to relatively small sample sizes or program entrance rates. 

The AAMC is pleased to offer these data in cooperation with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). AACOM leaders encourage every DO applicant to work closely with their school and faculty advisors when considering graduate training options and building a residency application strategy.  

"In preparation for the first unified Match in 2020, AACOM was pleased to work with the AAMC to provide students with these insights into the residency application process, and we know they will be even more important as we all assess the impact of COVID-19 on this year’s Match,” said Mark Speicher, PhD, MHA, senior vice president for medical education and research at AACOM. “While the data does not include Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States of America (COMLEX-USA) scores or the relationship between COMLEX and USMLE results for those who took both tests, these results provide an excellent starting point for medical students to learn how to maximize their efforts when seeking residency placements.” AACOM believes that these results will be more helpful to DO graduates, but they should keep in mind that no COMLEX scores are used in the results. That is, the data only include DO students who took the USMLE. The data do not include information on the impact of COMLEX scores on a USMLE score (for example, if a student scores at the mean of the USMLE and one standard deviation above the mean on the COMLEX, the interaction of those scores is not explored, so no conclusions about that should be drawn).

You may have noticed that the point of diminishing returns estimates for DO applicants, where available, tend to be higher than the corresponding estimates for MD applicants, and program entrance rates for DO applicants are generally lower than those for MD applicants. One reason for these differences may have to do with average Step 1 exam scores for DO applicants, which tend to be lower than those for MD applicants and tend to have a higher standard deviation of scores.

Despite any differences, we encourage applicants to use these findings as a starting point for considering the number of programs you will ultimately apply to, and not to assume these differences exist in specialties where we are unable to report points of diminishing returns estimates. No magic number applies to all applicants, so consider the entrance rates and points of diminishing returns in the context of your overall residency candidacy and application. Entrance rate data include results for both seniors and medical graduates, and these positions are tracked only in ACGME-accredited programs. In addition, these data are based on applications from 2013-2018 and before the unified Single Match for DO applicants was implemented in 2020. Finally, these results only apply for DO applicants who have taken the Step 1 Exam; the results do not account for DO applicants who only have COMLEX scores. 

DO students and graduates seeking more information about applying to residency should contact: Mark Speicher, PhD, MHA, senior vice president for medical education and research, AACOM, at mspeicher@aacom.org.

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