Portland, ME – Citing the increasing amount of knowledge needed to succeed as a physician, the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) board has announced a new series of exams that medical trainees will be required to pass in order to become board eligible in their respective specialties. In addition to the existing step 1, step 2 clinical knowledge (CK), step 2 clinical skills (CS), and step 3 exams, USMLE has approved 17 new exams to bring the total to 21 exams. They have recommended new exams every several months throughout the four years of medical school in addition to exams at least 5 times during residency. Each exam will cost around $1500, significantly increasing the cost of medical education, but increasing the quality of physicians, according the USMLE.
“Americans have increasingly become skeptical about the quality of medical professionals in this country,” remarked USMLE president Louis Bourbon while on vacation at one of his personal French chateaus, “Our initiative is designed to increase confidence that physicians trained in this country are of the utmost quality and are capable of passing the most rigorous of training exercises. We feel the cost is a small price to pay for assuring our citizens of the highest quality care.”
The first 8 extra exams will be known as Step 1.1-1.8 and will be given through the first 2 years of medical school. These exams will test important physical exam skills such as stethoscope listening speed, ophthalmoscope focusing skill, and a whole exam will be dedicated to “minimization of the rectal disimpaction pain quotient.” Each of these exams will require medical students to travel, at their own expense, to a small office building in northern Maine, about 2 hours from a major airport and most hotels.
Written tests during the last 2 years of medical school and beginning of residency will be known as Steps 2.1-2.8, and subsequently Step 3.102 and 3.127, and focus on ICD-10 coding memorization skills. Trainees will be expected to know the specific numerical designations for each coded illness in the entire ICD-10 manual. While nearing the end of residency, the focus of testing will shift towards assuring senior residency trainees display sufficient recall of Step 1 content such as re-memorization of the entire Krebs cycle and knowledge of RAS- GTPase phosphorylation mechanisms.
At an upcoming 7-day all inclusive retreat on a rented cruise ship in the Carribean, USMLE board members will discuss a proposed plan to allow for unlimited attempts at passing each exam, with repayment of the fee each time, plus a $150 “administrative fee.” They will also discuss future initiatives to fly in by private jet big name musical acts such as Aerosmith and Justin Bieber for future conferences. Kaplan will be underwriting the event.