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Exception to the USMLE Step 1 Policy for AY 2020-2021

The University of Massachusetts Medical school Education Policy Committee has previously passed policy related to Step 1 USMLE  that states students are required to take United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 prior to the beginning of their Core Clinical Experiences (CCE) year and to pass USMLE step 1 before continuing in the CCE year.  Additionally, MD/PhD students are required to take and pass Step 1 prior to entry into the graduate school of biomedical sciences (GSBS). Due to the Coronavirus pandemic Prometric testing centers announced their closure for a period of 30 days starting March 18th, 2020.  There exists the strong possibility that these centers will extend this closure beyond 30 days and the opening date is unknown at this time.  This prevents some members of our current UMMS class of 2022 from starting clinical rotations as anticipated June 1st because they cannot take Step 1.  For this reason we requested an EPC approved exception to our previous policy specifically for students entering CCE this academic year.  

A.) Students may enter Core Clinical Experiences (CCE) on time without taking the USMLE Step 1 by meeting any of the following criteria:

  • Take a Comprehensive Basic Science Self-Assessment (CBSSA) and achieve an adequate score to predict passing Step 1 at least 4 weeks before start of CCE by May 3rd, 2020 
    • Students received a voucher for a CBSSA from UMMS. Students can use that voucher or pay for the CBSSA on their own if they want.
    • Students must take one of the following CBSSA Forms 18, 20, 21, 22, 23,or 24.
  • Four weeks is needed for clerkships to determine their placements.
  • Submit a CBSSA with an adequate score to Dr. Christine Woolf, Center for Academic Achievement (CAA) by May 4th, 2020 by emailing her the official (National Board of Medical Examiners) NBME score report
  • Dr. Woolf will communicate with students after reviewing their scores regarding readiness for Step 1. 
  • A list of students who are ready to enter CCE will be provided to the office of student affairs (OSA) on May 6th, 2020. 

B.) Students who have not achieved a CBSSA score that is adequate to predict passing Step 1 by May 4th will apply for a Block 1A deferral as per the Deferral Policy. 

C.) Options for taking Step 1 during the clinical years

  1.  Students can take the exam at any time during CCE, at the end of CCE or during their Advanced Studies year, depending on their schedule and needs as determined by their practice test score and career decision-making in collaboration with the CAA.
  2. Clerkship and Course Directors will give students at least 2 days off to review prior to the exam date and the exam date off to complete the USMLE Step 1. Students should not request time off from sub-internships for Step 1. 
    1. Students must make up the 2 missed study days at the direction of the Rotation Director if the course is a Clerkship or a Type A elective.The student will alert the director as far in advance as possible about the missed days and the  director will respond with a plan to make up the missed clinical days with options to include weekends and overnights.  
  3. Optimal times may include (Flexible Clinical Electives) FCE weeks which have been scheduled adjacent to the December break for maximal preparation time.
    1. Of the 4 FCE weeks, 2 are required for graduation, and must be clinical; one of the 2 can be deferred to the AS year if desired. Students must select and enroll by 5/30/20. Please refer to the revised AY 20-21 CCE Academic Calendar.

Prometric Centers Closed refers to any site within a reasonable distance from UMMS. Students are expected to seek open sites within MA and RI. Students may choose to take the test at any Prometric location, including other states, but it is not required that students go outside of MA or RI as part of this policy.  Students may desire to travel to take the test if they want to complete it sooner than is possible in MA or RI. Even if Centers are open some students may not be able to find an open test slot. In that situation the policy above still holds for that student. The student is expected to continue looking for a test slot.

Applicability: AY 2020-2021 (Class of 2022)

EPC Approval: 5.4.20