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USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies

Posted: July 10, 2014

USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies, a publication that provides a common organization of competencies and tasks assessed in USMLE examinations, is now available.

The outline comprises seven major sections:

  • Medical Knowledge/Scientific Concepts
  • Patient Care: Diagnosis
  • Patient Care: Management
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
  • Professionalism, including Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Systems-based Practice, including Patient Safety
  • Practice-based Learning

While this outline is common to all USMLE examinations, each Step will continue to have test specifications specific to that Step and will emphasize certain parts of the outline.

USMLE Physician Tasks/Competencies is useful for understanding competencies assessed by multiple-choice question (MCQ) formats such as Step 1, Step 2 Clinical Knowledge, and the MCQ portion of Step 3. The outline will be updated as work to identify competencies covered by non-MCQ exam formats progresses.


Step 2 CS cases – common presenting signs and symptoms

Posted: September 10, 2017

A list of common presenting signs and symptoms that Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) examinees may expect to see during their examination has been posted to the USMLE website. These are examples only, and the list does not represent all possible presenting signs and symptoms that may be encountered.

The Step 2 Clinical Skills Content Description and General Information booklet has been revised to include this list.

Examinees will encounter a broad spectrum of cases reflecting common and important symptoms and diagnoses, as well as patients with a variety of backgrounds. The criteria used to create individual examinations focus primarily on presenting symptoms and conditions. On any examination day, the set of cases will differ from the combination presented the day before or the following day, but each set of cases has a comparable degree of difficulty.

Presentation categories include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular, constitutional, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, neurological, psychiatric, respiratory, and women's health. Examinees will see cases from some, but not all, of these categories. The selection of cases is also guided by specifications relating to acuity, age, gender, and type of physical findings.

The USMLE program continually reviews its examinations to ensure their content is relevant to the practice of medicine. As practice guidelines evolve or are introduced, the content on USMLE is reviewed and modified as needed.


Updated Step 2 Clinical Skills orientation video and information booklet

Posted: September 10, 2017

An updated Step 2 CS orientation video is available. The video includes information about two user-adjustable display features in the patient note program used by Step 2 CS examinees, text magnification and color inversion.

An updated Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) Content Description and General Information booklet is available. The updated booklet includes a list of common presenting symptoms and signs that examinees may expect to see.


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