The United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 Is Changing-US Medical Curricula Should Too

JMIR Med Educ. 2020 Jul 30;6(2):e20182. doi: 10.2196/20182.


In recent years, US medical students have been increasingly absent from medical school classrooms. They do so to maximize their competitiveness for a good residency program, by achieving high scores on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1. As a US medical student, I know that most of these class-skipping students are utilizing external learning resources, which are perceived to be more efficient than traditional lectures. Now that the USMLE Step 1 is adopting a pass/fail grading system, it may be tempting to expect students to return to traditional basic science lectures. Unfortunately, my experiences tell me this will not happen. Instead, US medical schools must adapt their curricula. These new curricula should focus on clinical decision making, team-based learning, and new medical decision technologies, while leveraging the validated ability of these external resources to teach the basic sciences. In doing so, faculty will not only increase student engagement but also modernize the curricula to meet new standards on effective medical learning.

Keywords: US medical students; USMLE; USMLE pass/fail; medical education; medical learning; medical school; new curricula.