By Wendy Sarubbi | August 15, 2012 4:45 pm

Scores on the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) tell students if their knowledge and skills are sharp and tell medical-education programs if they are focused on the right subject areas.

College of Medicine faculty attended a recent workshop at the Lake Nona campus to learn about changes to the USMLE, which is sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).  Before students can apply for a medical license, they must pass the three-part test that is given at different stages of their medical education.

Dr. Agata Butler, NBME’s vice president of medical education and health profession services, spoke to about 40 College of Medicine faculty and staff on July 20. Changes include new passing rates and questions that focus on students’ ability to interpret pharmaceutical advertising and research abstracts.

“The NBME update gave faculty and staff a snapshot of the strategic issues affecting student assessment and licensing processes.  Dr. Butler discussed the recent comprehensive review of the USMLE as well as NBME Assessments and Services for Medical Schools.  ” said Andrea Berry, director of faculty development.

The exam consists of Step 1, which assesses basic science knowledge after a student’s second year; Step 2 CK, which tests clinical knowledge after a student’s third year; and Step 3, which is given after a student’s first year of residency. Among other changes, Dr. Butler emphasized:

  • The minimum passing score for Step 1 increased from 185 to 188, beginning January 2010.
  • The minimum passing score for Step 2 CK increased from 189 to 196, beginning July 2012.
  • Assessment of clinical skills and reinforcement of relevant foundational sciences have been enhanced throughout the Step exams.

The examination also helps shape good educational practices. “We get a perspective on where our program’s focus should be, and how to prepare students for what comes next,” said Andrea.

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