USMLE Step 2 CS was suspended on 13 March, 2020 due to Covid -19 outbreak as a precautionary step to protect the health of examinees and test center staff which was later extended to 18 months. Recently USMLE has uploaded a Step 2 CS 2021 Update Nov 2020 on a podcast on their website - an interview with David Johnson, Chief assessment Officer, Federation of State Medical Boards and Dr. Chris Feddock, Executive Director for CS Evaluation Collaboration (CSEC) which administers the USMLE STEP 2 CS. The following is a salient gist of their conversation.
Though Step 2 CS suspension was a a necessity during the pandemic and step 2 CS scheduling came to a standstill with indefinite closure, it did create a great turmoil for students who were applying for the 2021 Match. They had to wait indefinite periods for an ecfmg step 2 CS update which were far and wide in time frame. However after a long break, USMLE has given the following announcement. Over the summer they collected an initial community feedback to help for the exam future development. This involved focus group discussions and a fairly large survey from stake holders which included State board members, faculty of medical schools, medical students, residents, international medical graduates and residency program directors. They plan to retain the valuable inputs and address any concerns wherever feasible. Valued assets of stake holders on step 2 cs exam were on realiable scoring, standardization of SP performance across sites, clinical skillsets being assessed and how relevant they are to clinical practice, professional smooth operation of test administrations. There was a broad agreement among all stake holder group that this type of assessment is relevant and important. The concerns were on the limited number of test sites, examinees travel away from home, especially the impact for IMGs outside the country to test at one of the 6 clinical sites across the US. Other challenges were the cost of the exam, perception of the artificial nature of the Standardized patient interaction and the patient note. This announcement has been much awaited by students applying for the 2022 Match.
1. Can an examinee conduct an effective clinical interview? Can they obtain the right information?
2. Can they communicate that information effectively to patients and other members of the health care team
3. Can they reason effectively so they can take the most appropriate steps in patient care.
So it comes down to obtaining the right information, communicating effectively and reasoning effectively with the information that they have obtained. These are components that have been important in the prior administrations of the exam as well which come under the ICE component of data gathering and patient notes, CIS & SEP skills, which used to be the most failed component. Target USMLE has been training students for the past decade with a 97% pass rate with a mission of helping medical students to prepare with a personalized CCC course and pass it the first time around.
3 Phases of the relaunch of step 2 CS are listed below
Discovery – this phase has been completed which includes the licensing needs assessment, prioritization stakeholder input)
Design – This phase includes developing content, delivery of the eam , feedback and scoring which is currently in progress
Implementation – Training, pretest, pilot studies will be conduct in this phase.
They conceded to the fact they are very much aware of the 2022 NRMP match timelines, ECFMG certifications and Step 3 timelines and will relaunch Step 2 CS at a time that balances these many factors.
Overall the Modified assessment will be delivered via remote online delivery platform with examinees interacting with standardized patients over a video . This is provide a safe and convenient platform that promotes both examinees and staff safety.
Target USMLE anticipates there will be an exodus of students early 2021 to schedule cs and take the Step 2 CS as soon as it is relaunched to obtain the results on time for the 2022 NRMP Match. Target USMLE has been training students ONLINE for Step 2 CS since 2009 with an Online Self Study Video Course which comes with Clinical Skills e-Handbook by Dr Mary June who is also the Co-author of First Aid for Step 2 CS. Some students who have had difficulty in interviewing and reasoning skills have benefitted with personal tutoring sessions with expert CS tutors to pass Step 2 CS the first time around. If you are a candidate for the 2022 NRMP Match you can try out your first Online Standardized Patient Video Encounter for free and check if you are ready for the New Step 2 CS exam format. These professional Standardized patients pool includes MDs who act as SPs who give insights on your interviewing skills, reasoning capabilities for arriving at a correct differential diagnosis and prioritizing them in patient notes other than critiqueing you on communication and interpersonal skills.
Get started now to conquer the 3 key areas that USMLE will be testing you on in the New USMLE step 2 CS format in 2021. What is not changing? The exam will continue to be focused on assessing the US and foreign trained physicians entering supervised practice in the United States. It will continue to assess the specific sub competencies with the USMLE physician task as far as communication and inpatient care. The focus is to relaunch Step 2 CS at the earliest and keep perfecting it over the next few years. Looks like it is time to get started for Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam preparation 2021 in all earnest and plan ahead of time for success!
Listen to Podcast here
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