After the Discontinuation of Step 2 CS: A Collaborative Statement from the Directors of Clinical Skills Education (DOCS)

Teach Learn Med. 2022 Mar 14;1-6. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2022.2039154. Online ahead of print.


Issue: The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 2 Clinical Skills Examination (Step 2 CS), the only clinical skills competency testing required for licensure in the United States, has been discontinued. Evidence: This exam, though controversial, propelled a movement emphasizing the value of clinical skills instruction and assessment in undergraduate medical education. While disappointed by the loss of this national driver that facilitated standardization of clinical skills education, the Directors of Clinical Skills Education (DOCS) see prospects for educational innovation and growth. DOCS is a national organization and inclusive community of clinical skills education leaders. This statement from DOCS regarding the discontinuation of USMLE Step 2 CS has been informed by DOCS meetings, listserv discussions, an internal survey, and a review of recent literature. Implications: Rigorous clinical skills assessment remains central to effective and patient-centered healthcare. DOCS shares specific concerns as well as potential solutions. Now free from the external pressure to prepare students for success on Step 2 CS, clinical skills educators can reprioritize content and restructure clinical skills programs to best meet the needs of learners and the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. DOCS, as an organization of clinical skills leaders, makes the following recommendations: 1) Collaboration amongst institutions must be prioritized; clinical skills assessment consortia should be expanded. 2) Governing, accrediting, and licensing organizations should leverage their influence to support and require high quality clinical skills assessments. 3) UME clinical skills leaders should develop ways to identify students who perform with exceptional, borderline, and poor clinical skills at their local institutions. 4) UME leadership should fully commit resources and curricular time to graduate students with excellent clinical skills.

Keywords: Clinical skills; USMLE Step 2 CS; assessment; clinical skills competency; licensure.