The content description that follows is not intended as a curriculum development or study guide, but rather models the range of challenges that will be met in the actual practice of medicine. It provides a flexible structure for test construction that can readily accommodate new topics, emerging content domains, and shifts in emphasis. The categorizations and content coverage are subject to change. Successful completion of at least one year of postgraduate training in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association should be helpful preparation for Step 3.
The expected outcome of the USMLE process is a general unrestricted license to practice medicine without supervision. Step 3 is the final examination in the USMLE sequence. The test items and cases reflect the clinical situations that a general, as-yet undifferentiated physician might encounter within the context of a specific setting.
Although you already may have begun specialist training, for this examination you are expected to assume the role of a general, as-yet undifferentiated physician. You are a member of an independent group practice affiliated with a number of managed care organizations. Your office has regularly scheduled hours. You can admit patients to a 400-bed regional hospital, which provides care for both the urban and the outlying rural communities. The hospital provides standard diagnostic, radiologic, and therapeutic options, including ICUs and cardiothoracic surgery. There is a labor and delivery suite. A fully equipped emergency department adjoins the hospital, and medical evacuation helicopter service is available for emergency transfer to a regional trauma center.
You do not have specialty-oriented hospital privileges, but you may request any specialty consultation. Laboratory values provided in the USMLE Step 3 Sample Test Questions booklet are the normal ranges for this hospital.
Step 3 patients reflect the diversity of health care populations with respect to age, gender, cultural group, and occupation. The patient population mix is intended to be representative of data collected from various national health care databases in the United States.