USMLE is the ground requirement for gaining a license to practice medicine in the United States of America. When you choose to do a Residency program in the USA, you must first clear the USMLE examination that assesses if you possess the skills and knowledge required for effective patient care. This assessment is an essential requirement for obtaining medical licensure in the US. In proper definition, USMLE examines the ability of a student to use the knowledge and concepts to demonstrate and perform basic patient-centered skills. It acts as the gateway for acquiring medical licensure in the US.
What is USMLE?
The USMLE: United States Medical Licensing Examination is the essential requirement that is mandatory to gain a medical license in the US. It is known to be sponsored by the FSMB (Federation of State Medical Boards) and NBME (National Board of Medical Examiners). Both are non-profit organizations that design USMLE as the sole national examination for assessing the licensure of allopathic physicians. This method is practiced to ensure that all medical aspirants undergo the same assessment standards irrespective of their practicing state and training.
Who attempts the USMLE?
For an aspirant to gain medical licensure in the US, the first and foremost step is the USMLE clearance. If you are an aspirant for a Residency program in the USA, then you should attempt a USMLE. All physicians currently practicing within the US require a USMLE clearance unless otherwise a postgraduate trainee. The examination is a common platform for medical aspirants; whether qualified in the US or other parts of the world, the assessing standards are the same for all. Wherever trained, the assessment checks if the candidate has the same standards as a UD medical school graduate.
You must fulfill any one of the following categories:
- You must be a medical student, a US graduate, or a Canadian Med School graduate who leads to the MD degree accredited by the LCME – Liaison Committee of Medical Education.
- For consideration, applicants must be medical students or US graduates that lead the DO degree accredited by the COCA – Commission of Osteopathic College Accreditation.
- It is necessary for you to be a medical student or a graduate of the US or Canadian med school. The presence in the World Directory of Medical Schools is required for the medical school and also fulfills the requirements set out by the ECFMG – Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.
Any candidate dismissed or withdrawn from medical school will not be eligible to undertake the USMLE.
After successfully completing criterion 1, you must hold at least one of the following listed:
- Either an MD or DO degree from the US or Canada Medical school as accredited by the COCA or LCME
- Any equivalent of the MD degree from a recognized med school outside the US and Canada that is listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools, meeting the ECFMG eligibility requirements. You are also expected to hold an ECFMG certification if you are a graduate outside of the US and Canada.
USMLE Exam Overview:
There are three sections to the United States Medical Licensing Examination categories. Each category is explained in detail below:
- Duration: A total of seven examinations are divided into 60-minute blocks each. The exams are spread over an entire day, approximately summing up to eight hours, including break timings.
- The Number of Questions: Multiple choice questions that sum to approximately 280 questions.
- Assessment criteria: The efficiency in applying the basic to important medical concepts in actual clinical scenarios. The assessment checks if the candidate has knowledge of the underlying mechanisms and principles of health, medications, diseases, and how to treat them.
- Duration: A total of eight examinations are divided into 60-minute blocks each. The exams are spread over an entire day, approximately summing up to nine hours, including break timings.
- The Number of questions: Multiple choice questions that sum to approximately 318 questions.
- Assessment criteria: The understanding and application of medical knowledge and skills of clinical science that are deemed essential for patient care while focusing on disease prevention and health promotion.
This examination is divided into two parts: FIP (Foundations of Independent Practice) and ACM (Advanced Clinical Medicine). The tests are taken over two days of the time that assess the candidate’s capability to apply biomedical and clinical science while focusing on patient care in ambulatory settings.
FIP (Day 1):
- Duration: A total of six examinations are divided into 60-minute blocks each. The exams are spread over an entire day, approximately summing up to seven hours, including break timings.
- The Number of questions: Multiple choice questions that sum to approximately 232 questions.
- Assessment criteria: The knowledge of basic scientific and medical concepts essential for effective patient care.
ACM (Day 2):
- Duration: A total of six examinations that are divided into 45-minute blocks each and a total of thirteen stimulation blocks of 10–20-minute time each. The exams are spread over an entire day, approximately summing up to nine hours, including break timings.
- The Number of questions: Multiple choice questions that sum to approximately 180 questions and thirteen CSS – Computer-based Case Simulations.
- Assessment criteria: The capability of the candidature to apply the concepts of health and disease management for efficient care of patients.
Candidates who wish to take the USMLE examination must register before doing so. Exams one and two can be completed in any order. However, to take up exam three, one must have completed both the pre-exams beforehand. The USMLE authorities also recommend that you complete the exams within seven years from the first exam that you undertake. All the examinations are computer-based and are taken up at Prometric centers administered by the authorities of the United States Medical Licensing Examination. The third exam is only distributed in the United States and its corresponding territories. The Residency Program in the USA aids you in getting registered and clearing the USMLE.
- Graduates from medical schools in the US and Canada that the COCA or LCME accredits can apply through the NBME Licensing examination services.
- Graduates from medical schools ‘[that are located outside the US and Canada can apply for the same through the ECFMG application website.
Medical students or graduates who have completed the first two examinations can register through the FSMB website.