2.06 Licensure: USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)

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2.06 Licensure: USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination)

The National Board of Medical Examiners has established a single, three-step examination for medical licensure in the United States. The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) provides a common evaluation system for applicants for medical licensure. Harvard medical students are required to obtain passing scores on USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge) and Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills) to be eligible for graduation. Step 3 is taken after the MD degree is earned. For additional information, please refer to the USMLE Bulletin of Information http://www.usmle.org/.

Students are required to take Step 1 prior to entering the Principal Clinical Experience. Students who are unable to complete this requirement must obtain prior approval from their Society Master or Associate Master and the Office of Advising Resources. Students entering a PhD program after Year II are required to take Step 1 prior to starting their PhD. Students entering the joint MD-MBA program after the PCE are also required to take Step 1 at the end of Year II, prior to beginning the PCE.

HMS students are required to take all three parts of the USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK and CS prior to December 31st of their 4th or final (graduation) year. Students should be aware that some residency programs require that students have passing scores available for all parts of USMLE, including Step 2CS, by the rank order deadline for the residency match (late February) in order to be considered for ranking by the program. Therefore, HMS now requires students to take Step 2 CS by early November to ensure the results will be posted prior to ranking. Please refer to the USMLE CS Reporting Schedule for score release dates to assist you in scheduling CS (http://www.usmle.org/bulletin/applying-and-scheduling/).

Students are permitted three attempts to pass each required licensing exam (Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS). Students who fail to pass any of these exams after three attempts are referred to the HMS Promotion and Review Board and are usually required to withdraw from Harvard Medical School.

During the late spring, summer or early fall of the 4th (or final) year, each student will have an interview with their Academic Society regarding the preparation of the MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation, or “Dean’s Letter”). At that meeting, each student must present proof that he or she has taken, or is scheduled to take, all three steps of the USMLE prior to December 31st of that year (November for Step 2CS).

HMS will include a sentence about the USMLE requirement in the MSPE that will state either: "This student has fulfilled our expectations of professional responsibility with regard to the USMLE requirements and will have taken all three parts prior to December 31 of (graduation year).” or  "Although we have every expectation that this student will graduate in May of (graduation year), the student has not fulfilled our expectation of professional responsibility with regard to the USMLE requirements and has not yet scheduled (which part of the USMLE).”



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