USMLE Mission Statement

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) program supports medical licensing authorities in the United States through its leadership in the development, delivery, and continual improvement of high-quality assessments across the continuum of physicians' preparation for practice.

Goals:

  • To provide to licensing authorities meaningful information from assessments of physician characteristics—including medical knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes—that are important to the provision of safe and effective patient care.
  • To engage medical educators and their institutions, licensing authority members, and practicing clinicians in the design and development of these assessments.
  • To assure fairness and equity to physicians through the highest professional testing standards.
  • To continue to develop and improve assessments for licensure with the intent of assessing physicians more accurately and comprehensively.

In the United States and its territories, the individual medical licensing authorities ("state medical boards") of the various jurisdictions grant a license to practice medicine. Each medical licensing authority sets its own rules and regulations and requires passing an examination that demonstrates qualification for licensure. Results of the USMLE are reported to these authorities for use in granting the initial license to practice medicine. The USMLE provides them with a common evaluation system for applicants for initial medical licensure.

The USMLE is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States, Inc. (FSMB), and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®).

The Composite Committee, appointed by the FSMB and NBME, establishes policies for the USMLE program. Membership includes representatives from the FSMB, NBME, Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®), and the American public.

The USMLE assesses a physician's ability to apply knowledge, concepts, and principles, and to demonstrate fundamental patient-centered skills, that are important in health and disease and that constitute the basis of safe and effective patient care. Each of the three Steps of the USMLE complements the others; no Step can stand alone in the assessment of readiness for medical licensure. Because individual medical licensing authorities make decisions regarding use of USMLE results, physicians seeking licensure should contact the jurisdiction where they intend to apply for licensure to obtain complete information. Also, the FSMB can provide general information on medical licensure.

Additional information describing the USMLE is available in the Overview section of the USMLE Bulletin of Information.

Current and recent members of USMLE test material development committees and task forces are listed in the NBME Annual Reports.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the USMLE are available on the FAQs page.