American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Single GME Info for Students & Trainees


An overarching goal in the single GME accreditation system is to maximize access to GME opportunities and options for all osteopathic medical students and graduates. It will allow osteopathic medical students to apply for programs in specialties of their choice, as well as increase recognition of osteopathic medicine and bring our unique health care to a wider audience.

The AOA and ACGME are acutely aware that moving to a single GME accreditation program creates uncertainty for DO and MD students and residents who will be training during the transition. Both organizations agree that protecting students and residents is paramount.

The AOA is committed to helping all students and trainees navigate the evolving system. Please contact the AOA at for assistance. View our list of frequently asked questions for more information on the transition.  


Protecting Students & Trainees

AOA standards help ensure residents will complete their training in an accredited training program. AOA-accredited programs that have not entered into the ACGME accreditation process cannot accept a resident if the resident’s expected training completion date is after the AOA ceases its accreditation functions on June 30, 2020.  

For example, a 3-year program that is not applying for ACGME accreditation could not accept new residents after July 1, 2017, because the resident’s graduation date would be after the end of the transition period, when that program’s AOA accreditation would cease.

In order to participate in the AOA Match/accept new trainees who would complete training after June 30, 2020, programs must have submitted their application for ACGME accreditation by the deadline stated in Section X of the AOA Basic Documents for Postdoctoral Training

The AOA, ACGME and AACOM are committed to protecting residents during the transition to the single accreditation system. While the AOA will no longer accredit GME programs after June 30, 2020, there may be unique circumstances whereby some programs make a good faith effort to achieve ACGME accreditation but still have not transitioned successfully by that date. An agreement reached by the three organizations is designed to protect residents in such programs or situations so they have the ability to complete AOA-accredited training and advance to AOA board eligibility. The agreement will give the AOA restricted authority to extend the AOA accreditation date to allow any remaining resident in such programs to complete training in an accredited program.

DO graduates of AOA programs with pre-accreditation status receive special benefits when applying to ACGME fellowships. DOs seeking fellowship spots during the transition will be eligible for ACGME fellowships provided that their AOA program has been awarded pre-accreditation status and the applicant meets the other existing requirements of the individual fellowships. Individuals who complete a residency program after that program has achieved pre-accreditation status will be subject to ACGME eligibility requirements for the relevant subspecialty that were in effect as of June 30, 2013, or July 1, 2016, whichever is less restrictive. 

Residents are encouraged to consult with their program directors, mentors and osteopathic specialty colleges regarding which fellowship programs may be most receptive to their applications. 

Update on the Match

The AOA Match took place in 2017 and will continue in the foreseeable future. It will cease when all AOA-accredited training programs become ACGME-accredited, presumably on or before June 30, 2020. Until that time, the AOA Match will continue to match DO graduates into AOA-accredited programs.

AOA-accredited programs will not be able to participate in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) match until they have received Initial Accreditation from the ACGME. Programs with pre-accreditation status are still approved by the AOA, and prospective residents still have to go through the NMS match.

Once all programs are considered ACGME-accredited after the transition is complete, it is likely there ultimately will be one Match.

The Value of COMLEX

Throughout the transition, COMLEX-USA will continue to be the valid examination for DO competency assessment for licensure. It is also required by COCA accreditation standards as a requirement for graduation from all colleges of osteopathic medicine. Thus, osteopathic medical students will continue to be required to pass the COMLEX-USA examination (Levels 1 and 2) in order to graduate from an osteopathic medical school.

While COMLEX is first and foremost a licensure examination, residency program directors also use it to assess applicants to their programs. The AOA, AACOM, and the NBOME are increasing efforts to help ACGME residency program directors understand and interpret COMLEX-USA scores.

It is important to note that neither the COMLEX-USA nor the USMLE exams are specifically required by ACGME accreditation standards for residency program application or acceptance. We expect that, in the vast majority of cases, COMLEX-USA will be increasingly recognized by ACGME-accredited residency program directors in the single GME accreditation system. Program directors are generally enthusiastic to learn more about COMLEX-USA and osteopathic medicine. However, there are still some ACGME programs that will prefer to see a USMLE score. If a student has aspirations for such programs, then that student will have to make the decision about whether to take the USMLE in addition to the COMLEX.

Board Certification

View the Board Certification Chart to learn more about AOA and ABMS training eligibility requirements for specialty certification during the five-year transition period to a single GME accreditation system. The AOA provides a pathway for osteopathic physicians (be they AOA or ACGME trained) to sit for AOA board examinations in the areas for which it certifies. For AOA programs that achieve ACGME accreditation during the transition, all current osteopathic residents will receive AOA approval following completion of training, which will satisfy the AOA board training eligibility requirements.  During the transition, the ABMS boards will offer certification to osteopathic physicians under specific circumstances (summarized in the chart). Individuals seeking ABMS certification should monitor relevant ABMS board websites for any changes in policy. Note that the rules for entering advanced ACGME training are established by the ACGME. Those rules may allow a trainee to enter advanced ACGME training, but do not guarantee the trainee would be eligible to sit for the ABMS board examination.


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