Student soapbox: national medical exams
Kinesh Patel believes a national standard is the way forward
- By: Kinesh Patel
It is not often that I can say that the USA does something better than Britain does, and it is even less often that I am seen to be a proponent of exams, but in the case of medical examinations, which I hope we all recognise as a necessary evil, I feel that the USA's system is superior.
In order to practise medicine in the USA all medical students have to pass national exams, the “United States Medical Licensing Exam.” (USMLE) These exams are taken in three steps: Step 1 is taken after two years of medical school, Step 2 in the final year, and Step 3 after qualification. They are intended as general exams, with the emphasis being more scientific in the earlier stages and more clinical in the later stages. The later stages include specialty specific questions as well, for example, on psychiatry, dermatology, and ophthalmology. Students take