Thinking of Taking USMLE? Here`s What you Need to Know

The United States Medical Licensing Examination(USMLE) is a three-step test whose purpose is to evaluate a medical practitioner’s ability to apply and showcase skills that are relevant while taking care of a patient. This test is very important especially to International Medical Graduates that wish to get into a residency program in the United States as it tries to gauge whether the medical knowledge of these individuals matches the standards set in the United States. Only after the three tests are completed and passed will you be eligible for a license.

The USMLE courses steps include Step 1, Step 2 which is subdivided into two groups clinical knowledge and clinical skills and a final step which is Step 3. Step 1 takes a single day and serves the purpose of evaluating whether an applicant understands science concepts and can apply them to medicine. The scores from this will determine whether the applicant will get into their chosen medical residency. The standards set for the international students are higher and they are required to score higher points in this exam than the United States medical students. It is important to note that the exam cannot be re-taken once an applicant obtains the passing score. For US students, this test is taken in the second year in medical school.

The Step 2 test gauges whether that same knowledge can be applied while providing care to patients who are under observation. Unlike the Step 1 test, this test is taken by US students while they are in their fourth year. While the clinical knowledge test puts a huge focus on the skills and their application on safe medical practices, clinical skills tests the ability of the students in getting information from patients and relaying their findings. The clinical skills assessment is only offered in five cities in the United States namely Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Scoring highly in both the step 1 and step 2 puts an applicant in a better position to match to a residency as it demonstrates knowledge and the ability to apply the knowledge.

The Step 3 is the final test and this one analyses a medical student’s ability to apply medical knowledge that is necessary for the unsupervised practice of medicine. This tests takes two days to complete with the first day lasting for about seven hours and the second day taking 9 hours. Some of the topics addressed include the reproductive system, pregnancy, musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, behavioral disorders, skin tissue and health maintenance issues. For the US graduates, this test is taken at the end of the first year of residency.

While this entire process might seem a bit too tasking, the end results are worth it. You will not only get to work as a doctor in the United States, but you will also get to handle better quality work while earning a good salary.

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About the Author: Clare Louise