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What is the USMLE?

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USMLE is the medical licensing examination for the United States, sponsored by Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States and the National Board of Medical Examiners. The USMLE is a three step examination which assess the physician`s skills and ability of applying the knowledge and concepts for an effective patient care and the physician`s capability to demonstrate the fundamental patient- centered skills. This examination has three steps and each of it complement the others in such a way that no one step can stand alone as an assessment of readiness by itself. The three steps of the USMLE examinations are discussed in this article.
The step 1 of the USMLE examination assess the Knowledge and ability of the candidate to apply the basic sciences in the medical practice ensuring that the candidate has mastered the foundation sciences for a successful and competent practice in the field of medicine. This also ensures that the candidate is familiar with all the principles required to maintain the competence through life- long learning.
This is a one day examination, containing 322 multiple choice questions divided into 7 blocks and a maximum time of 60 minutes is allocated for each block. The examinees have a 45 minutes break in between and an optional 15 minutes of tutorial. Each section of this step is focused on the individual organ systems, abnormalities, and cultural, environmental and psychosocial considerations.
USMLE Step -2:
The USMLE step 2 examination is divided into two sections, the step-2 CK, which assess the clinical knowledge and the Step -2 CS, which assess the clinical skills of the candidate. The step-2 CK is a one day examination that assesses the understanding of the clinical skills of the candidate and how much they can be applied under supervision. This also gives much importance to disease prevention and health promotion. The exam is constructed in such a way that it gives more emphasis on two categories such as physician`s task and disease category. Similar to the step-1 examination, this step has 355 Questions divided into blocks and the test item formats may vary within each block.
The USMLE step-2 CS evaluates the clinical skills of the candidate by allowing them to assess and communicate with standardized patients under supervision. In this the physician`s communication and interpersonal skills and spoken English proficiency is assessed. The step-2 CS has three sub-components such as the Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE), Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS) and Spoken English Proficiency (SEP).
USMLE Step-3:
The USMLE step-3 mainly emphasize on patient care in ambulatory settings. Step-3 is a two day examination. The first day examination lasts for 8 hours: 7 hours of exam and 45 minutes break in between. The exam contains 336 multiple choice questions divided into 7 blocks and the second day exam comprises of 144 Questions divided into 4 blocks. Apart from this there are 12 simulation cases to be completed within 4 hours. There is also an optional survey at the end of the day.
Completing all three steps is mandatory to be qualified for acquiring the medical licensure in United States. Hence only competent candidates with the highest standards can come out as successful practitioners getting through the USMLE examinations.


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