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USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK: Increase in number of items in existing content categories scheduled for mid-2020

Posted: November 05, 2019

The current Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examinations include questions assessing systems-based practice and patient safety, communication skills, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism. Beginning in mid-2020, the Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) examinations will include an increased number of questions assessing communication skills, system-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism. The length of the testing days for Step 1 and Step 2 CK will not change.

Decisions about the balance of content on USMLE examinations are the responsibility of two groups: the USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE Management Committee. Both are composed of educators, practicing physicians, members with experience on state medical licensure boards, and public members. These committees approved the increase in the number of test items assessing the important competencies listed above. 

Timetable:

  • Beginning in May 2020, Step 1 will include additional questions assessing communication skills.
  • Beginning in June/July 2020, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge will include additional questions on systems-based practice, patient safety, legal/ethical issues, and professionalism.
  • No changes to the Step 3 examination are planned during this timeframe. 

Sample test items illustrating assessment of communications skills, systems-based practice and patient safety, and legal/ethical skills and professionalism are provided in the Step 1 Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 7-11) and in the Step 2 Clinical Knowledge Content Description and General Information booklet (pp. 8-11).

The practice materials available on USMLE.org will be updated in early 2020 to reflect these changes in the distribution of exam content across content categories on Step 1 and Step 2 CK.


USMLE program announces upcoming policy changes

Posted: February 12, 2020

Today, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®), co-sponsors of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), announced upcoming policy changes to the USMLE program.

These new policies will continue to enable the USMLE program to provide high-quality assessments for the primary user of exam results (state medical boards) while also addressing other considerations, such as exam security and unintended consequences of secondary score uses. The secondary uses of Step 1 scores for residency screening, in particular, have been the focus of extensive discussion over the past year at the FSMB and NBME, within the USMLE program, and with multiple stakeholders within the broader medical education and regulatory communities.

“These new policies strengthen the integrity of the USMLE and address concerns about Step 1 scores impacting student well-being and medical education,” said Humayun Chaudhry, DO, MACP, President and CEO of the FSMB. “Although the primary purpose of the exam is to assess the knowledge and skills essential to safe patient care, it is important that we improve the transition from undergraduate to graduate medical education.”

“The USMLE program governance carefully considered input from multiple sources in coming to these decisions. Recognizing the complexity of the environment and the desire for improvement, continuation of the status quo was not the best way forward,” reported Peter Katsufrakis, MD, MBA, President and CEO of NBME. “Both program governance and staff believe these changes represent improvements to the USMLE program and create the environment for improved student experiences in their education and their transition to residency."

These policy changes are currently planned to be phased in over the next 11-24 months. For specific information on each policy, consult the links above to the detailed statements accompanying each policy change. A podcast supplementing the information contained in this announcement is below.


Potential impact of coronavirus on USMLE examination administrations

Posted: January 30, 2020

The USMLE program continues to monitor the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and is prepared to take appropriate measures as warranted to protect the health and safety of examinees and the public.

Whenever an examinee has a scheduled testing appointment, it is important to monitor the impact of illness, weather, or other conditions on USMLE administrations by going to the Prometric website (for Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 exams) and the CSEC website (for Step 2 Clinical Skills exams) for updates. Test centers may close at any time. 

If you have been impacted by a test center closure related to the corona virus and need assistance with rescheduling your examination, please contact your registration entity.

It is also always important to monitor your own health. If you do not feel well on the day of your test, we strongly encourage you to reschedule your examination. If you become ill while taking any USMLE exam, inform a proctor promptly.

Please check the USMLE website for updates on the potential impact of coronavirus on USMLE administrations.


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