Harvard Med students organize to eliminate $1,300 exam

If the average medical school student graduates with approximately $180,000 in debt, a $1,300 test might seem like a drop in the bucket. Not so, say advocates for scuttling the exam, reports The Washington Post.

The Step 2 Clinical Skills exam, administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners, is a measure of a future doctor’s bedside manner and ability to solve clinical problems. Since it’s offered at just four testing sites around the country, many students have to cough up the exam fee and any travel-related expenses, according to the article.

The exam assesses medical students’ bedside manner by observing their ability to figure out the appropriate treatment plan for 12 people who pretend to be patients, reports The Post.

A campaign to eliminate the exam, organized by a group of Harvard Medical School students, has attracted support from more than 15,000 students, residents and physicians, according to the article.

“Because we take on so much debt, we become desensitized to ancillary expenses,” Andrew Zureick, a fourth-year student at the University of Michigan Medical School, told the newspaper. “But is [the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam] truly necessary to practice medicine when the vast majority [of] medical schools administer a comparable exam?”

The counterargument from licensing boards is the exam measures the quality of medical students’ ability to treat patients, which is valuable because medical school curriculums across the country can vary, according to the article.

The Michigan State Medical Society and the Massachusetts Medical Society voted to decide on the matter at the American Medical Association’s meeting, which is taking place this week in Chicago.

To learn more:
- read the article