Obviously, COVID-19 has been a scary and rocky road for most of us health care professionals. When ECFMG announced the possibility of writing the USMLE STEP 2 CS exam via telehealth model many thought what else can make us less free(er) from the panic?
When preparing for CS there is already the anticipated anxiety of finding ways to stay focused for an eight hour exam that includes 12 patients, with 12 different scenarios and 12 different personalities. At the same time you, the doctor, must remain courteous, find ways to ask important, relevant questions in a 15-min time period, and leave the exam room in time to type a patient note given only ten minutes.
The setting, strategy and content alone is just enough to cause a panic, but now with the thought of transitioning the exam to telehealth model, some may feel this will be a recrudescence of the already disquiet nature of the exam.
What will actually change in Step 2CS ? What are the new challenges? Will there be an orientation provided days before a doctor’s exam date that will explicitly state what to do and what not to do when performing a telehealth patient encounter? How will the online grading for CS be conducted? Also, most nerving will be knowing what to do for a physical exam that at this point cannot be physical. The physical exam is an important component to STEP 2 CS ICE component raises question as to how will it be graded via the proposed USMLE program Telehealth model?
There are also the challenges of technical issues while taking Step 2 CS Online. Do we use our own laptop/computer? How will testing be monitored? What if there are glitches in the system that can adversely effect the outcome of our score? What if the internet is slow or gets disconnected?
However in spite of its challenges, we must develop a means to brace ourselves for the CS exam change during the COVID-19 crisis. That alone can help ease the anxiety. The transition will be new to all of us, including proctors, CS standardized patients (SPs), Step 2 Examiners and Step 2 CS examinees - so we must trust that this change will work for us and not against us. When you’re fearful of change, you might not make the clearest, best decisions. Mindfulness and strategizing will help us in this process in figuring out the best way to tackle this change and take necessary steps.
The bright side of this is telehealth model for step 2 CS is that it would keep us safe from the Corona virus contacts and cuts back a lot of cost related to travel, flight, accommodation at a different city in a hotel and for some IMGs travelling from another country and international travel/visa costs.
Target USMLE has been the leader in ONLINE CS Courses for the past 10 years ( since 2009). Our effectiveness in training for this high stakes practical exam has been evident in our pass rate of 97% and testmonies from students (www.targetusmle.com). While many Live center based prep courses are tweaking their courses to an online portal, you have immediate access to Target USMLE Online CS Course that is already tested for a decade by students who come out with flying colors in ICE, CIS & SEP. The course is designed by Dr. Mary June (First Aid CS Co-author & CS Handbook author) is continually updated to the latest changes for CS.
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