In this episode, Ryan talks with Dr. Mike McInnis, Chief Educator at Doctors in Training, a small company that focuses mainly on test prep specifically for USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Exam) and COMLEX (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination) to help medical students pass the boards.
Today, he talks about the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 board exams, their importance on your path to residency, and study strategies and resources you can employ (including the Doctors in Training videos). COMLEX will be covered in another episode.
What are the USMLE Exams?
The USMLE is a three-part exam designed to test whether a medical student is knowledgeable enough to be licensed as a physician.
USMLE Step 1
- A long, computerized, multiple-choice test based on basic sciences
- Usually taken at the end of the second year of medical school
- Used as a determining factor in residency application
- Changing from knowledge-based test to a more clinical/patient-centered exam
Doing well on the USMLE Step 1 gives you a better chance to get into the kind of residency you want. In that way, it is similar to the MCAT determining which medical schools will look at your application. Your Step 1 score can massively impact how many offers you get from top residency programs you want to get into.The USMLE Step 1 is evolving from being a knowledge-based test to being a more clinical/patient-centered exam.Click To Tweet
USMLE Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge)
- Computer-based, multiple-choice test moving away from the basic sciences and more toward actual patient care
- Tests how to make diagnoses, what diagnostic tests should be ordered for a patient based on clinical data and history, lab findings to expect, and the beginnings of treatment
- Mostly taken at the tail-end of 3rd year or beginning of your 4th year, when you’ve already been exposed to patient care during clinical years
- Designed to test whether a medical student is able to function at a level appropriate for a senior-level medical student
USMLE Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills)
- Setting you up with mock patients (actors paid to act as patients)
- Expensive test, as you will be flying to the site since they are only offered in 5-6 testing locations throughout the country
- Taking histories, doing physical exams, writing a SOAP note that integrates it all with a good assessment and plan
- Total of 12 patient encounters
Is Step 2 important for residency?
- Yes, residency program directors look at your Step 2 scores, and it may affect your chances to match.
- The average Step 2 score is considerably higher than the average Step 1 score.
USMLE Step 3
- Taken after the intern year (first year of residency training)
- May be required in some residency programs before moving to 2nd or 3rd year of residency
- No full medical license until you’ve passed all three steps
- Mostly covers basic general medical conditions
About the Doctors in Training videos and other products:
- Online USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK test products
- Also offers COMLEX products, as well as anatomy and others
- Around 75 hours of video-based lectures to download with a study guide
- Helping medical students pull information back out of their memory
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
The best way to prepare for the Step 1 exam is to do well in your coursework in medical school. Learn pharmacology and pathology as well as you can.The best way to prepare for the Step 1 exam is to do well in your coursework in medical school.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources:
- Doctors in Training
- USMLE webite
- Step 1 Question Formats / Step 2 CK Question Formats
- Step 2 CS Tools / Step 2 CS Patient Notes
- Related post: USMLE Step 1 Basics: Learn What Step 1 Is All About
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