News

ECFMG Launches Electronic Verification of Medical Credentials

The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), a world expert on international medical schools and the credentials they issue, is pleased to announce the launch of an electronic process for verifying the medical education credentials of international physicians who seek entry into the U.S. health care system.

In January 2012, after more than a year of intensive development, a pilot of ECFMG’s electronic Credentials Verification program was launched with participation from approximately 20 international medical schools. Participating institutions use Credentials Verification to electronically receive and verify the medical education credentials of their students and graduates who apply to ECFMG.

For more than 50 years, through its certification program, ECFMG has assessed whether international medical graduates are ready to enter U.S. graduate medical education programs. As part of this certification program, ECFMG requires international physicians to provide copies of their medical education credentials, specifically medical diplomas and transcripts. Since 1986, ECFMG has verified applicant credentials by mailing copies directly to the issuing institutions. The electronic Credentials Verification program represents a significant advance over the paper primary-source verification process, benefiting medical schools and their students/graduates while maintaining ECFMG’s rigorous standards for primary-source verification.

ECFMG’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Emmanuel G. Cassimatis, M.D., comments, “ECFMG’s role in verifying the medical education credentials of international physicians is critical to protecting the public. Electronic Credentials Verification revolutionizes the way we perform this vital function.”

Read the press release.

Fee to be Implemented for Application for ECFMG Certification

Effective January 30, 2012, there will be a fee of $50 for submitting an Application for ECFMG Certification. The Application for ECFMG Certification is a requirement for international medical students/graduates pursuing ECFMG Certification. International medical students/graduates must submit an Application for ECFMG Certification before they can apply to ECFMG for examination. Once an Application for ECFMG Certification has been submitted to ECFMG, it typically remains valid throughout the certification process. More information on the Application for ECFMG Certification is available in the ECFMG 2012 Information Booklet.

ECFMG On-line Services Unavailable January 24, 2012

Due to scheduled maintenance, ECFMG’s on-line services will be unavailable from approximately 6:00 p.m. through approximately 8:00 p.m. on January 24, 2012. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will not be able to access any of ECFMG’s on-line services. For more information on the services that will be unavailable during this maintenance period, visit the On-line Services Overview page.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

REMINDER: New Rules on Repeating USMLE Examinations

ECFMG would like to remind applicants that the USMLE program is introducing new rules on repeating USMLE examinations.

Time between Examination Attempts
The USMLE program sets rules on how quickly examinees can repeat the same Step or Step Component. As previously published, these rules will change for exam applications submitted on or after January 1, 2012.

For exam applications submitted on or after January 1, 2012, the following rules will apply to all Steps and Step Components. You may take the same examination no more than three times within a 12-month period. Your fourth and subsequent attempts must be at least 12 months after your first attempt at that exam and at least six months after your most recent attempt at that exam. Attempts at that examination (complete and incomplete) prior to January 1, 2012 will be counted in determining whether these rules apply. When you reapply, your exam eligibility period will be adjusted, if necessary, to comply with these rules.

For more information and examples, view the full announcement.

Attempt Limit for USMLE Examinations
As previously published, the USMLE program is introducing a limit on the total number of times an examinee can take the same Step or Step Component. When this limit takes effect, an examinee will be ineligible to take a Step or Step Component if the examinee has made six or more prior attempts to pass that Step or Step Component, including incomplete attempts.

The effective date for the six-attempt limit depends upon whether an examinee has taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012.

  • If you have not taken any Step or Step Component before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit will go into effect for all exam applications that you submit on or after January 1, 2012.
  • If you have taken any Step or Step Component (including incomplete attempts) before January 1, 2012, the six-attempt limit will go into effect for all exam applications that you submit on or after January 1, 2013.

For more information and examples, view the full announcement.

IWA Unavailable December 31-January 1

Due to required maintenance, ECFMG’s Interactive Web Applications (IWA) will be unavailable from approximately 4:00 p.m. on December 31, 2011 through approximately 12:15 a.m. on January 1, 2012. All times are calculated using Eastern Time in the United States.

During this maintenance period, you will be unable to perform any IWA transactions, including working on or submitting an Application for ECFMG Certification or USMLE exam application; accessing a USMLE scheduling permit; or requesting an extension of a USMLE Step 1 or Step 2 CK eligibility period.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to maintain high-quality on-line services.

Changes to the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) Examination

One of the recommendations emerging from the Comprehensive Review of USMLE (CRU) process is that USMLE consider ways to further enhance the testing methods used in the Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination. As previously announced in the 2012 Bulletin of Information, these enhancements are scheduled for implementation in mid-2012. These changes will be introduced in Step 2 CS for examinations delivered beginning June 17, 2012.

The reporting schedule for examinees testing from June 17, 2012 through November 3, 2012 will be 2-3 weeks longer than for examinees testing during other periods.

More information about the Step 2 CS score reporting dates for examinations delivered in 2012 is provided in the Step 2 CS Score Reporting Schedule.

Changes to the assessment of Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS)
The CIS subcomponent of Step 2 CS has been redesigned to assess a fuller range of competencies.  Background information about these changes is provided on pages 5-6 of the Fall 2010/Winter 2011 NBME Examiner. The new approach divides communication skills into a series of functions. These functions have been further divided into sub-functions. Beginning June 17, 2012, the Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS) scale will focus on five functions:

  1. Fostering the relationship
  2. Gathering information
  3. Providing information
  4. Making decisions: basic
  5. Supporting emotions: basic

Several additional functions are still under development; these include making decisions: advanced; supporting emotions: advanced; and helping patients with behavior change. A list of the functions and sub-functions is available.

Changes to the patient note
Also beginning June 17, 2012, a new patient note will be introduced. The patient note is completed by the Step 2 CS examinee after the encounter with the standardized patient. In the new note, examinees will continue to be asked to document relevant history and physical examination findings and to list initial diagnostic studies to be ordered. Examinees will also be asked to create a reasoned, focused differential (maximum of three diagnoses) listed in order of likelihood and to indicate the evidence obtained from the history and physical examination that supports (or refutes) each potential diagnosis. The new patient note provides examinees with an opportunity to document their analysis of a patient’s possible diagnoses. A sample of the new patient note is available for review.

Practice materials
Updated practice materials for Step 2 CS will be posted to the USMLE website in March 2012. These include the Step 2 CS Content Description and General Information Booklet, onsite orientation video, sample patient notes, and a simulation of the program for typing patient notes.

Fee Increases for USMLE Examinations

Effective January 1, 2012, the fees for those applying to ECFMG for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK), and Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) will increase.

The examination fees for USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 CK will increase from $780 to $790 for each exam registration.

The examination fee for Step 2 CS will increase from $1,355 to $1,375 for each exam registration.

The new fees will be assessed for all USMLE applications submitted to ECFMG on or after January 1, 2012.

For more information on the fees associated with applying for USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS, refer to Exam Fees in the ECFMG 2012 Information Booklet.

Field Trial of New Step 2 CS Assessment Formats

The National Board of Medical Examiners® (NBME®) is developing new assessment formats for use in its Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examination. A field trial of these new formats is planned between January 11 and January 23, 2012, at the National Board of Medical Examiners, Philadelphia, PA. This trial is primarily a test of new case formats and measurement instruments that will resemble USMLE Step 2 CS. It will give participants a chance to “practice” a clinical skills examination under USMLE conditions.

View full announcement on the USMLE website.

(posted September 9, 2011; updated December 7, 2011)

Additional Changes to USMLE Procedures for Reporting Scores

As was reported previously, the USMLE program has begun the process of eliminating the reporting of results on the 2-digit score scale to parties other than the examinee and any state licensing authority to which the examinee sends results.

Because USMLE will continue to report the 2-digit score to examinees and to state licensing authorities, the program will be making changes in scoring procedures to minimize the impact of future shifts in the relationship between 2-digit and 3-digit scores that result from USMLE’s periodic review of standards. The new scoring procedures will be implemented with the reporting of results for examinees who take a Step 1, Step 2 CK, or Step 3 examination on or after October 1, 2011.

View full announcement on the USMLE website.

Important Information about Step 2 CS Testing and Score Reporting in 2012

As noted in the 2012 USMLE Bulletin of Information, changes to the assessment of communication skills and patient note are planned in mid-2012. In order to introduce these changes to the examination, there will be no Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examinations from May 20 through June 16, 2012.

Please note the following information regarding the testing schedule in the second half of 2012:

  • Additional testing sessions – including evening and weekend sessions – have been added to the calendar before and after the May/June shutdown.
  • The reporting schedule for examinees testing from June 17, 2012 through November 3, 2012 will be 2-3 weeks longer than for examinees testing during other periods.
  • Examinees who test on or before December 31, 2012 will have results reported in time for the 2013 “Match.”

View the 2012 Step 2 CS score reporting schedule.