Before you get your MD degree in US, you will have to pass the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) also known as the Board exam. USMLE is divided into three parts which you will have to take throughout your education.
- In USMLE there are four exams in total – Step 1, Step2 CK, Step 2 CS and Step 3. The first two can be taken outside USA but the last two can only be taken in US.
- USMLE Step 1 – This exam is written after your third year in medical school. Step 1 exam is centered around the subjects learned during the first three years of medical school.
- USMLE Step 2 CK – CK stands for Clinical Knowledge. This exam is based on topics learnt in the fourth year.
- USMLE Step 2 CS – CS stands for Clinical Skills. This exam tests your practical skills as a professional doctor, communication and manners. This exam can be taken only in the USA at five Clinical Skills Evaluation Centers (CSEC), located in: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
To be eligible for USMLE step 2, the student must have cleared USMLE step 1 . It assesses clinical knowledge through a multiple-choice nine-hour long examination. The focus of Step-2 is more on clinical application of medical knowledge. The ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care under supervision are assessed. The Step 2 is generally taken during the fourth year of medical school
Step 2 is divided in two exams – Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS).
Step 2 CK test is composed of eight question sets with 45 questions per set. Each section is one hour long. Test includes questions from various content areas like internal medicine, pediatrics, preventive medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, psychiatry, and other areas relevant to provision of care under supervision. This test requires interpretation of tables and laboratory data, results of other diagnostic studies, imaging studies, and photographs of gross and microscopic pathologic specimens.
Step 2 CS exam consists of 12 patient encounters, acted out by actors playing the role of patients. The examinees must take a history, do a physical examination, determine differential diagnoses, and then write a patient note based on their determinations. The topics covered are common outpatient visits in the fields of internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, pediatrics, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Examinees are supposed to investigate the simulated patient’s main complaint, obtain a thorough assessment of their past medical history, medications, allergies, social history, and family history. Examinees can also have one telephone encounter, speaking to a patient where there is no physical checkup.
Once Step 2 exams are passed, you will be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) and a certificate will be awarded to you. Now you are eligible for applying for residency.
Now is the Residency stage. You can write USMLE Step 3 either during residency or before that
USMLE Step 3 is the final examination in the USMLE exams series, and it leads to a license to practice medicine without supervision.