Introduction to USMLE
WHEN, WHERE, HOW TO START ??
We know about USMLE.
But still there remain a bunch of question creeping in our mind. Lets clear all those doubts, for you.
Those who are intern / just completed internship is at their peak time to pursue USMLE.
There is a timeline that the residency programs/program directors maintain during the match/ resident selection interview. You are going to be the residents(work at least 80 hours per week; once it was 120 hr !!). So they want energetic young people. There are hundreds of unmatched old foreign medical graduates in the US due to this.
So, what is the timeline should we target?
There is a term YOG(Year of graduation). It means the year when your final professional exam result was published. Not the ending year of your internship. So the program directors set a timeline as a criteria of resident(img) selection-
3 years since graduation
5 years since graduation (most common)
7 years since graduation
Some programs set no boundary
As an IMG(International medical graduate) we should try to secure our residency by applying for more and more programs. And so being the early bird helps here most. So, don’t think you have all life to study for it. It’s now or never.
I haven’t heard or seen the cut-off YOG less than 3. So if you can complete step 1, step 2 CK, step 2 cs within 5 years you have a good chance, and if within 3 years you can apply then you will have a greater chance. Note that, you need great scores too with your sharp knowledge of timeline.
The requirement for applying in residency
Before applying for residency one student must complete Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS. The first two can be given from AAA, Banani, Dhaka, and step 2 cs, step 3 only in the USA.
With all these completed, you must have at least 3 months of United States clinical experience (USCE). It’s of two types, Externship (you will work as an intern doctor, but will not be paid) and Observership ( you will just follow the physician but can’t do anything). Often you have to pay for these experiences to the hospital/medical center in the USA offering the USCE.
Again, you must have to complete step 1, step 2 CK, Step 2 CS within 7 years.
If you pass with Step 1, step 2 CK once (with good/poor number) you cannot give it again in seven years.
But if you fail, you can give it again with no delay.
Step 2 CS is a clinical exam of 1/2 patients. Its a Pass/Fail exam. No numbers. But failing puts a bad impression. All US medical students pass this exam the first time.
Step 1 is score is most significant. It will kinda tell you whether you should proceed for residency or not. As a non-us International Medical Graduate, you MUST get above 220 at least if you want to secure Internal Medicine/other good residency.
So, scoring above 240 in both step 1, step 2 CK, and passing step 2 cs (all in one chance) will certainly make anyone a good candidate.
But nowadays many aspirants complete step 3 also before applying. This gives a boost to your CV. But it’s not absolutely essential. You can give step 3 after 1 year of residency. But if you are waiting for months to be matched you should complete step 3 also in the interim time.
N.B- Matching for residency occur once in a year. During September the application session starts. You get your call for an interview from November to February. The match result is published in March. The Residency Programs start in June.
When to Start
The earlier you start the sharper you will become with time. But let’s divide the plan into various parts suitable for everyone.
Plan for students
1st – 4th-year student- You can read books for step 1 with studies in medical college. Start with Kaplan step 1 book. You are eligible for Step 1 examination from the 4th year of medical life. You can give step 1 right now. But, its recommended you give it after completing your final prof. As you will acquire a clinical eye by then, it will help you a lot than before to understand the question pattern because in Step 1 many questions are case scenario-based.
5th-year student- You should be concentrated in the final prof. studies. As the final year is very compact and the syllabus is huge. It’s better to stick to the syllabus. However, you can review step 2 CK books.
Plan for Interns/Doctors
Intern- You are standing in the golden time for pursuing USMLE. From here you can different paths. Check out the best possible pathway-
Plan A Take Step 1, step 2 CK preparation, and complete within 2-2.5 years (including internship year). If you have completed an internship plan to complete these 2 steps within 1.5-2 years.
Book for Step 2 cs exam. Get a visit visa. Then go to the USA to give an exam. If you acquire a 5-year multiple entry visa you can start USCE at your convenient place. Then apply for residency.
Take Step 1, Step 2 CK preparation and exam.
Take GRE, TOEFL/IELTS preparation, and give the exam. Get admission to a graduate program in the USA in a medical-related field ( MPH, Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology). By the side of studying complete Step 2 CS, USCE. Apply for residency. Attend the interviews. Get matched in residency.
Another medical-related degree along with good scores in USMLE Step 1, step 2 CK will give a boost to your CV.
You can take GRE, TOEFL/IELTS before or after step 1, step 2 CK. This is up to you. But my personal suggestion is if you are truly dedicated to USMLE. You can complete GRE, TOEFL/IELTS during the internship. Then start USMLE prep full time. However, remember TOEFL/IELTS has 2-year validity only, where GRE has 5-year validity. To complete step 1, 2 CK within the shortest possible time (1.5yr-2 yr).
This plan is the best plan for international medical graduates.
Exam Centre for USMLE in Bangladesh
AAA (American alumni association), Banani, Dhaka
This is the same place where GRE, Toefl is held.
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