The United States Medical Licensing Examination is composed of three parts, or steps. Step 2 of the USMLE measures the candidate's ability to apply medical skills, medical knowledge, and an understanding of clinical science to patient care. This portion of the USMLE places special emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention.
In order to pass Step 2 of the USMLE, the candidate will have to master those principles of clinical science and patient care that are essential to safe and competent practice as a doctor. In order to effectively assess both the intellectual and practical competence of the candidate, Step 2 includes a Clinical Knowledge (Step 2 CK) and a Clinical Skills (Step 2 CS) component.
The Step 2 CK is composed of approximately 370 multiple-choice questions. These are administered during eight hour-long blocks over the course of one day. The content areas covered by the Step 2 CK include but are not limited to: internal medicine; obstetrics and gynecology; pediatrics; preventive medicine; psychiatry; and surgery. The items on the Step 2 CK exam may require the candidate to examine and interpret laboratory data in tables, visual representations of gross and microscopic pathologic specimens, and the data assembled from other diagnostic studies. For most items, the candidate will be required to provide one or more of the following: diagnosis; prognosis; explanation of the underlying mechanisms of disease; or a plan for future medical treatment.
The content of the Step 2 CK exam can be broken down from the perspective of physician task or disease category. In terms of physician task, 15-20% of the exam focuses on promoting preventive medicine and the maintenance of health; 20-35% on understanding and assessing the mechanisms of disease; 25-40% on establishing a diagnosis; and 15-25% on applying the principles of management. In terms of disease category, the exam covers both normal growth and development and the following types of disorders: mental; immunological; endocrine and metabolic; cardiovascular; nutritional and digestive; gynecologic; skin and subcutaneous tissue; renal, urinary, and male reproductive; musculoskeletal and connective tissue; and respiratory.
USMLE Preparation information provided by Morrison Media LLC.
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