By Nickey Jafari
Recently, several students at Harvard Medical School started a petition to eliminate the national clinical skills exam for US medical graduates, a requirement they regard as an unnecessary expense providing little to no educational purpose or benefit to future patients. They argue that the high cost of the exam, combined with the very low number of medical students that fail, results in an undue burden to medical students. Indeed, USMLE cites a pass rate of 96% for first-time takers of Step 2CS. While the students behind this movement have not yet spoken directly with the NBME, members of the medical community who have encountered the petition have exhibited no real pushback to the idea of ending the Step 2 Clinical Skills Exam. Over 14,000 individuals have already signed their petition.
We interviewed Carolyn Treasure, a 4th year medical student at Harvard, and one of the leaders of this effort:
Q: How did you get involved with End Step 2CS? What triggered your interest in starting this petition?
A: Christopher Henderson, a fellow fourth year at HMS galvanized about 5 of us to this effort. We all were interested in starting this petition to help fellow medical students. This test is redundant and low value. We felt it was pretty obvious to us both before and after we took it. However, we decide to wait to start this petition until after each of us had taken the exam. We hope this collaborative effort helps future generations of medical students.
Q: In your opinion, outside of Step 2CS, are there any other good examples of an unnecessary cost in our medical education?
A: There are a lot of examples of unnecessary or excessive cost or, more accurately, pricing. But that is outside the scope of this petition. However, I do believe as medical students and future physicians our generation needs to start questioning the system more: why do we have to do said things? Does it really have any educational benefit? Is it cost effective or evidence based?
Hopefully this is an example that will encourage our peers and colleagues to critically think about the cost vs. benefit of medical education requirements, as well as other stipulations throughout training and practice.
You can read more here:
Carolyn Treasure is a fourth year medical student at Harvard. She, along with Christopher Henderson, Ben Rome, Ben Brush, Lydia Flier and Samia Osman, launched the petition to End Step 2CS in March 2016.
Nickey Jafari is a 2nd year medical student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. She was born in Tehran, raised in Kansas, and attended Drake University in Iowa for her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Biochemistry. She is passionate about global health and is interested in how better access to and quality of surgery can help tackle disparities in outcomes.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.