Anesthesiology Resident Performance on the US Medical Licensing Examination Predicts Success on the American Board of Anesthesiology BASIC Staged Examination: An Observational Study

J Educ Perioper Med. 2020 Jul 1;22(3):E646. doi: 10.46374/volxxii-issue3-Markham. eCollection Jul-Sep 2020.


Background: Correlation has been found between the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 examination results and anesthesiology resident success on American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) examinations. In 2014, the ABA instituted the BASIC examination at the end of the postgraduate year-2 year. We hypothesized a similar predictive value of USMLE scores on BASIC examination success.

Methods: After the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects at UTHealth Institutional Review Board approved and waived written consent, we retrospectively evaluated USMLE Step examination performance on first-time BASIC examination success in a single academic department from 2014-2018.

Results: Over 5 years, 120 residents took the ABA BASIC examination and 108 (90%) passed on the first attempt. Ten of 12 first-time failures were successful on repeat examination but analyzed in the failure group. Complete data was available for 92 residents (76.7%), with absent scores primarily reflecting osteopathic graduates who completed Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination of the United States level examinations rather than USMLE. In the failure cohort, all 3 USMLE examination step scores were lower (P < .02). USMLE Step 1 score independently predicted success on the BASIC examination (odds ratio [OR] 1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05-1.17, P < .001). Although USMLE Step 2 score predicted BASIC examination success (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.04-1.18, P = .001), this did not remain after adjustment for Step 1 score using multiple logistic regression (P = .11). In multivariable logistical regression, first clinical anesthesia in-training examination score and USMLE Step 1 score were significant for predictors of success on the BASIC exam.

Conclusions: In anesthesiology residency training, our preliminary single-center data is the first to suggest that USMLE Step 1 performance could be used as a predictor of success on the recently introduced ABA BASIC Examination. These findings do not support recent action to change USMLE scoring to a pass/fail report.

Keywords: ABA BASIC exam; USMLE Step 1; anesthesiology residency recruitment.