Just this week the USMLE announced that come 2020, changes to Step 1 and Step 2 CK will be made. These changes come in the form of additional questions and will be seen on exams beginning as early as May 2020. One change not being made–the time students will have to complete the exam. Despite additional questions, the length of time students have to complete the test will remain the same. The decision to make these changes was made by the USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE Management Committee. Continue reading below for a breakdown of what types of content will be addressed in these additional questions and how you can prepare for them.
Additional information can be found on the USMLE’s website here.
A Greater Emphasis on Communication Skills
Students can expect to answer a greater number of questions that relate to their communication skills. This may pertain to communication with other medical practitioners, patients, and other personnel. This change will only be seen in Step 1 of the USMLE.
Questions being added to Step 2 CK will deal with professionalism, patient safety, and aspects of ethical reasoning. The emphasis based on these, more general skill sets, might be a testament to the issues currently impacting the medical community. These questions may be a way to further vet that a future physician’s skill set is as personal and professional as it is tactical.
The Benefit of Clinical Experiences
With communication skills being the focus of the shift in content, clinical experiences will hold even greater value as they allow participants to work with physicians, patients, and students or residents.
Some information is best obtained through text or in a classroom setting. Interpersonal skills require real-world practice and guidance. A supervising physician who has strong ties with colleagues and a great rapport with patients could be a good model for medical students and graduates to follow.
Rumored USMLE Changes
Prior to these changes being announced, the USMLE Composite Committee and USMLE Management Committee met to discuss the possibility of reverting back to a pass/fail system of grading the exam. No formal decision has been made on this topic as the group still feels the score of the USMLE can be a deciding factor when considering multiple applicants for a single residency position.