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Becoming an Osteopathic Physician
Shadowing a DO and Learning About the Practice of Osteopathic Medicine
Training for Health Professionals
General Admission Requirements
Overview of the Four-Year Curriculum
Board Examinations and Licensure
Web Sites for Potential Medical Students

Board Examinations and Licensure 

Osteopathic physicians are eligible for licensure in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other territories and areas of the United States and Canada. Licensure is determined by each state through the appropriate licensing board.

In order to be licensed as an osteopathic physician, one must:

  • Graduate from an accredited U.S. college of osteopathic medicine.
  • Successfully complete the Comprehensive Osteopathic Licensure Examination (COMLEX), Levels I, II, III and PE. This examination is administered by the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). Level I of the exam is taken after the second year of medical school prior to the last two years of clerkship training. Level II is taken at the end of the clinical clerkship years prior to graduating from osteopathic medical school. Level III is taken prior to the end of the internship year. The COMLEX-PE is an examination developed to test physical examination skills.

Osteopathic medical students are also eligible to take the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE), which is taken by students in allopathic (MD-granting) medical schools.

Following residency training, the osteopathic physician takes certification examinations from the specialty board that oversees her/his particular specialty. Board certification is required by many hospitals for hospital staff membership, as well as by health insurance companies in order for the physician to obtain reimbursement from third-party payers.

Osteopathic physicians stay abreast of the latest medical developments related to their specialty training through continuing medical education programs. CME requirements are determined by each state’s licensure board. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) also requires its members to complete a certain number of CME credits to maintain board certification.

For state-specific licensure information, visit

To learn more about CME through the American Osteopathic Association, visit

Information of various osteopathic specialties and subspecialties is available at:

In addition to full licensure in the United States, many foreign countries recognize the American DO degree and grant full licensure to American-trained DOs who wish to practice abroad. The scope of licensure is determined by each country. For more information, visit the AOA web site at


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