Don’t Underestimate the Importance of COMLEX OMM Practice Questions! Why You Need to Study Osteopathic Questions
If you are reading this blog post, you are probably thinking “Is OMM really that important for the COMLEX boards?” or “What if I study OMM right before my exam?” or the notorious “I’ll study really hard for the other subjects and just wing the OMM section” (as I’m facepalming in disgust). The answer to all of these questions and statements is that OMM is an integral part of the COMLEX exams and you will need a solid knowledge base in OMM to be successful in all 3 levels of COMLEX….let me say that again for the person in the back, ALL 3 LEVELS!
What is OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine)?
OMM, also called Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), according to PCOM is a “comprehensive approach to health care in which osteopathic physicians (DOs) apply osteopathic philosophy, structural diagnosis and use of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) in the diagnosis and management of patients.”
OMM is used by osteopathic doctors as a hands-on, non-invasive, medication-free treatment option for patients, and it is a requirement in an osteopathic medical student’s curriculum.
Why Study OMM for COMLEX?
Alongside making up 11% of COMLEX Level 1 and 10% of COMLEX Level 2 CE exams, it is important to understand the significance for DO’s during patient treatment. In an article by Dr. Brian F. Degenhardt, he portrays in his own experience the importance of OMM in patient care after treating a woman who visited him after an examination with an MD that led to medication for tentative irritable bowel syndrome.
She came to him for further examination after she found no relief in the medication. In looking at her medical history, lifestyle/daily routine, and providing an examination using palpation, he determined that several parts of her body were not functioning optimally. Using manipulation, he was able to reduce muscle and joint tension, resulting in almost instant relief.
OMM as it Relates to Your Examinations
To start off, let’s briefly discuss the blueprint of the COMLEX examination. In COMLEX levels 1 to 3, there are 2 dimensions. Dimension 1 involves seven competency domains and all of them involve osteopathic medicine or it’s practice/principles. Majority of this dimension involves the “Application of knowledge for Osteopathic Medical Practice” which is a minimum of 60% of dimension 1.”
Dimension 2 involves applying your medical knowledge to clinical presentations involving all of the organic systems and community medicine which may or may not contain OMM information. In level 2, the blueprint is very similar to level 1, but has more questions involving “Osteopathic Patient Care and Procedural Skills”.
Level 3 is very similar in blueprint and makeup as COMLEX Level 2. Instead of boring you with a bunch of numbers, you can see the links at the end of this blog post to compare the blueprint of each COMLEX Level.
You May See OMM in Board Questions
Another important point to consider is that OMM can be part of board questions that are not even considered an “OMM question”. For example:
“A 17-year old male presents to your emergency room with his mother for a 2 day history of periumbilical abdominal pain, nausea, and malaise. Upon physical examination, you notice that the patient is ill appearing and now has diffuse lower abdominal pain and rebound tenderness. There is tenderness, bogginess, and moisture along the right T12 transverse process. Basic labs have been ordered and are pending at this time. Which of the following choices below is the likely cause of his symptoms?
E) Urinary tract infection”
The correct answer for this question is A) Appendicitis. As you see in this question, there’s not a lot of information provided to decipher this patient’s symptoms from any of the question stem. There’s no labs, vital signs, or any pathognomonic findings. However, the golden nugget in this question is the viscerosomatic reflex at T12 that clinches the diagnosis for appendicitis.
This can be very frustrating (trust me, I have been there) but you will see questions like this on your COMLEX examinations. In other words, you can have a solid understanding of all the major organic systems, but if you do not study OMM, then you will be essentially winging a large portion of the exam. The best way to study for this exam is to involve board review questions that not only includes OMM but also integrates a question structure that is very similar to COMLEX.
The benefits of using Truelearn’s COMLEX board review questions for Level 1,2, and 3, is that you will familiarize yourself with the format of the COMLEX questions and have the tools to retain critical information referring to osteopathic medicine…it’s the best of both worlds!
The Best Study Guide for OMM: A Dedicated Osteopathic Resource
It is not enough to use USMLE-based board review programs like UWorld for COMLEX prep as USMLE questions are very different in style (more information including labs, vital signs, and imaging) and length. USMLE-based board review works well if you intend to take the USMLE. However, it will not help in preparing you for the COMLEX board exam. Therefore, please do not take this path if you are planning to take COMLEX!
In summary, if you plan on taking the COMLEX board examinations, it would be very wise to utilize a board review program that not only includes OMM but has a writing style that is very similar to the COMLEX examinations. This is because the COMLEX board questions are more succinct, sometimes vague, and contain OMM in most of their questions, which aren’t always “OMM questions”.
Failing to incorporate OMM routinely in your studies will hinder you from detecting key information in most of the questions you encounter on test day. So I recommend studying with TrueLearn’s high-yield practice questions for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 to give yourself the best opportunity for success. Best wishes on your upcoming COMLEX examination!
Study Pro Tip: Give yourself several months to study for each of these exams as this will make the entire process of preparing for your exam less stressful and draining while you are on your rotations. I would recommend a solid reference book for your rotations, a solid reference book for OMT (I would recommend the OMT Review “Blue book” by Savarese), and a solid question bank that you can go through at least twice. I like to go through the entire question bank once and then go over the incorrect questions a second time as repetition improves retention of knowledge.
*Enter coupon code COM20 at checkout for 20% off your 90-day or longer COMLEX Level 1, Level 2 CE, Level 3 or COMAT SmartBank subscription or bundle purchase! Excludes the purchase of subscription renewals. Cannot be combined with other promo codes or offers and cannot be applied retroactively to previous purchases. Ends December 31, 2022 at midnight PT.