The United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE), my friends, is a dark ocean of confusion. Those who come out alive on the other side are a chosen few & their success is well deserved. Fear not though. In this blog, I will try my best to address all your questions regarding the USMLE. Please feel free to ask me anything in the comments or drop me a line on Facebook, Twitter, or my email. Or you can ask me to my face! Yeah! The old fashioned way. You can!
First of all, in order to apply for the USMLE, you have to make sure that your school is registered with FAIMER’s International Medical Education Directory (IMED). Please click this link and make sure your college is registered. The only requirement for your college to be registered is that it is approved by the local health authorities of your country. In case of Pakistan, it is the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC). If your college is not registered on IMED, unfortunately, you can not apply for the USMLE. In that case, please speak with the authorities at your college. If they refuse to help, let me know & I will call and yell at them because I’m good at that. Yes I am. Then I will try to help you get your college registered and make sure you are recognized for it. Yes I will! I’m like your dream come true.
Secondly, you need to know when you want to take the USMLE. You can not take that exam until you have studied Anatomy, Embryology, Histology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pathology, Pharmacology, Microbiology, and Behavioral Sciences along with interdisciplinary areas (genetics, aging, immunology, nutrition, and molecular and cell biology) which are taught within the major courses. For Pakistani students, you can not take this test until after your fourth year when you have finished studying Special Pathology. You could take it but it would be easier to get a better score if you have studied all of Pathology first. Obviously, it would be the easiest to take it after 5th year but that’s only my opinion.
Also, please make sure you take it only when you are ready for it. You need to make sure you have studied well for it. A high USMLE Step 1 score means a better residency. If your step 1 score is low, forget about getting employed easily, let alone having your choice of residency. Best study methods and which books gave the best results on the USMLE will be addressed in a future post.
So, with that said, here we go:
In order to apply for the USMLE, you need to register with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, also known as the ECFMG. Follow these steps.
1- Apply for your USMLE ID: Please click HERE to be routed to USMLE ID registration page. This is your first step in order to apply for the USMLE. After this page opens, make sure you read it well and scroll down to the bottom, click to check that box and then click next. You need to fill out the form with all the information they asked for. Once you have submitted your application, wait 10 days for your USMLE ID to arrive in your email inbox. Check your spam folder as well. Once your USMLE ID arrives, it is your permanent USMLE ID. Please record it in several safe places, none of which are your textbooks.
2 – The Interactive Web Application (IWA): Clicking this link will take you to the IWA. Please make sure you have good internet and a printer with paper & ink. You log into the IWA with your USMLE ID and a password which was sent along with that ID. Please take extra caution when filling out this application. If you are unsure of anything, save your application and log out. You can ask your question here and if I don’t know the answer, I can always find out for you. You can then go back and finish your application at later time, but make sure you save it before you log out. At the end of this application, you will be asked to print out the following forms.
Form 344, a checklist of things you need to attach (Diploma, 2 photographs, etc)
Form 345, two copies, allow ECFMG access to your medical school documents.
Form 183/186, I will address these forms in a later post if anyone needs help.
3 – Send those documents & forms: They will give you an address for the ECFMG during the application as well as on the forms. Use the address and send these documents to ECFMG in Philadelphia.
4 – Wait for confirmation and such: ECFMG will notify you by email as well as snail mail that they have received your forms. They will then get in touch with your medical school to verify your credentials and obtain your transcripts if you have already graduated. Your medical school will then send the required documents back to ECFMG. This step can take up to a total of six months! If your college is enrolled in ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP), it will only take a few days. Please urge your college to enroll in EMSWP if you want this done faster. I am pretty sure it’s free and if it isn’t, it can’t be that expensive.
5 – On-line Applicant Status and Information System (OASIS): Another long scary name? No worries. You are used to long names by now. Did you study Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis yet? Okay, sorry for getting off track. Here we go. Once you have waited for step number four above to finish, you are ready to log into OASIS. Pleas click here to access their login page. Once you have logged in, look to the left side of the page and click on “Medical Education Credentials and Standard ECFMG Certificate”. If it says Medical education credentials received and verified, I want a fucking party! These are the golden words you are looking for in your status. If it doesn’t say that, you are not ready for the next step.
6 – Apply for USMLE: You can do this from IWA or OASIS. At this point you will have to pay them money though. Here are the current fee requirements. Make sure that you apply for the correct eligibility period. It means that if you want to take the exam in July 2015, select June-July-August 2015.
7 – Print your scheduling permit: It will show up on your screen once you’re done applying, along with registration ID and confirmation number. You should print all these out and take them with you to the exam. Before this, they used to have little orange slips. Not anymore.
8 – Pick your examination date: You have to visit the Prometric Website in this link and choose your exam date. This will be within the eligibility period you chose earlier.
That’s it. You’re all set.
You should know that I’m only human and I do make mistakes sometimes. I have checked and double checked all the information above. If I missed something or wrote something wrong, please feel free to let me know.
Also feel free to contact if you have any questions or suggestions for future USMLE posts. Best of luck!