Multiple Organizations Make Recommendations for USMLE Reform

July 17, 2019


If you’re a medical student preparing for the USMLE Step 1, you’ve no doubt experienced a bit of stress and seen the continual onslaught of social media memes decrying the experience as one of the toughest in medical education. In fact, some say that Step 1, which you’ll take after your second year of undergraduate studies, and which plays a decisive role in residency selection, has become so overwhelming that its hit controversy level.

The pressure to succeed on Step 1 “has gotten much worse” in recent years, Jed Wolpaw, MD, MEd, assistant professor and residency program director at the Johns Hopkins Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, told Medscape. “It is really all-consuming.”

Last year, a group of concerned students proposed an overhaul to the test. In March, the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical Association, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners held the Invitational Conference on USMLE Scoring “to explore these issues and consider recommendations specific to USMLE score reporting and the broader system of transition from UME to GME,” a recently released summary report read. “A general consensus emerged: The current UME-GME transition system is flawed and not meeting the needs of various stakeholders; unilateral changes to USMLE alone will not ‘fix’ the overall system; and changes, both systemic and specific to USMLE, must be identified and implemented on a reasonable timeline.”

Among the recommendations:

  • Reduce the adverse impact of the current overemphasis on USMLE performance in residency screening and selection through consideration of changes such as pass/fail scoring
  • Accelerate research on the correlation of USMLE performance to measures of residency performance and clinical practice
  • Minimize racial demographic differences that exist in USMLE performance
  • Convene a cross-organizational panel to create solutions for the assessment and transition challenges from undergraduate medical education (UME) to graduate medical education (GME), targeting an approved proposal, including scope/timelines by end of calendar year 2019

We here at WOLFPACC are keeping a close eye on the issue and will report as things progress, so check our blog often. Meanwhile, make sure you’re fully prepared for your USMLE or COMLEX with one of our review courses designed to help you pass on the first try. Call 904-209-3140 to learn more.

See the full conference report here: