USMLE Step 3 is the last board exam a physician must pass to practice medicine in the United States. It can only be taken after graduating from medical school; most residents take it in their intern year before getting into the bulk of their residency training. However, there are a handful of states (Texas included) which permit students to take the exam without completing any of their residency. In other words, one can register after graduating from medical school but before starting residency (ie, May or June). This is my tentative plan (as long as the registrar can quickly submit my graduation stuff so I’m eligible to register).
An excerpt from USMLE.org:
Step 3 is a two-day examination. You must complete each day of testing within 8 hours. The first day of testing includes 336 multiple-choice items divided into 7 blocks of 48 items; 60 minutes are allotted for completion of each block of test items. There is a maximum of 7 hours of testing on the first day. There is also a minimum of 45 minutes of break time and a 15-minute optional tutorial
The second day of testing includes 144 multiplechoice items, divided into 4 blocks of 36 items; 45 minutes are allotted for completion of each block of test items. Approximately 3 hours are allotted for these multiple-choice item blocks. The second day also includes a 10-minute CCS tutorial. This is followed by 12 case simulations, for which approximately 4 hours are allotted. A minimum of 45 minutes is available for break time.
So in other words, the medical licensing board is trying to finish us off. 😉
Why Before Residency?
At first, it doesn’t make sense to take the exam before intern year. Won’t a lot of the tasks I do as an intern indirectly prepare me for this heavily clinical exam? Compared to an internal medicine resident who will be inundated with a variety of cases throughout months of general medicine wards, my anesthesia intern year has a much narrower scope with only two months of adult wards. In addition, while studying for USMLE Step 2 CK, I noticed that clinical medicine (what goes on in the hospitals) varies quite a bit from textbook medicine (things we’re tested on). I’d much rather avoid having to study two different workups or treatment modalities for the same thing.
And the most important reason… I just want to be done with the USMLE exams!! 🙂
Akin to my Step 2 CK preparation, I’ll use only a handful of resources for Step 3.
- Master the Boards USMLE Step 3 (2nd Edition)
- Crush Step 3 (info which I’ll annotate in Master the Boards)
- USMLE World Step 3 question bank and clinical case simulations (CCS)
I’m relatively comfortable preparing for the multiple choice section from my experience preparing for Step 2 CK. The difference is the clinical case simulation (CCS) portion of Step 3. I have little experience with such a format (ordering exams, allowing time to pass, adjusting the workup, etc.) while being docked points for unnecessary exams. In reality, this may be a major drawback to taking the exam prior to actually doing these things in residency.
So that’s where I am. I’ve gone through Master the Boards once and am ready to start Kaplan Videos. 🙂
Any thoughts for or against taking USMLE Step 3 before residency?