National clinical assessments
The UK's General Medical Council is currently considering implementing a national clinical assessment. Allison Barrett investigates the pros and cons of the American system, which is now just over a year old
The clinical skills assessment of the US medical licensing system remains controversial after its inception last June. Some people say that the test is too expensive, redundant, and not easily accessible. Its advocates defend that it creates an even playing field among medical schools and is necessary to maintain the standards of the profession. After one full year of testing, the camps remain divided.
The American system of qualifying doctors requires three sittings of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). Step 1, taken after the second year of medical school, is written and tests basic science knowledge. Step 2, taken between third and fourth years of medical school, is part written and part pass or fail clinical skills assessment. Step 3, taken during residency, is written and involves computer based patient cases. After completion of all the exams, the doctor applies for licensure in an individual state.