I am ECFMG Certified

The following is a guest post.  It’s a contribution article from a graduated Saint James School of Medicine student.

ECFMG CertificateWell the time has come, I am ECFMG certified. Thank you Almighty for such a great success. It’s such a relief and I can’t believe it’s done. It was a long journey and accomplishing it is a great feeling. Of course the journey is not over yet; now I have to work on getting into residency but I’ll put that worry to the side and enjoy this moment and just reminisce on all the work that was put into it.

The process of getting the ECFMG certificate is a very simple process and SJSM did a great job in helping me get it. They were very supportive in getting my papers done fast and getting my credentials verified so the certificate would arrive at my house.

The certificate came in via FedEx and it was inside a hard paper cover. As you can see from he screenshot above that it looks nice and clean.

ECFMG CertificateThe certificate was placed under a plastic over. I displayed my certificate but I blurred out and blacked out my key information because I don’t want my information out there on the web.  As you can see this is it; this is what we were striving for the past couple of years. In order to get this certificate you have to pass the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, USMLE Step 2 CS. The certificate displays the dates of the exams you passed, which is displayed on the bottom left corner.  It also has the date the certificate was issued on the bottom right corner.

All in all, I’ll tell you, if I can do it then you can too. It requires persistence in times of difficulty and confidence from the beginning to the end.

So what does it mean now?
What it means now is that I finally get to have DR before my name and MD after my name.  Also, I am now eligible to take the USMLE Step 3, which also depends on the State of residence.

USMLE Step 1 and USMLE 2 CK Tests Will Not Be Merging

A reader asked if the USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK will be merging, and the answer is no. They are separate tests and they will stay separated according to the NBME.
According to the NBME:

Rumor: Step 1 is ‘going away’ or Step 1 and Step 2 CK are being combined into one exam.

This urban legend seems to spring from some misperceptions about the recommendations made by the Committee to Evaluate the USMLE Program (CEUP) with respect to the assessment of basic science. Early feedback from the wide variety of stakeholders surveyed to inform CEUP’s work told us that from both a licensing and an educational perspective, the separate design and administration of an examination of the basic sciences seems to create an artificial separation of basic and clinical sciences. This sentiment was frequently expressed by stakeholders, including faculty members from both the basic sciences and clinical sciences. The weight of opinion favored the integration of basic science and clinical science concepts throughout all examination components rather than the current segregation of basic science content in Step 1. This does not mean, however, that Step 1 will be eliminated from the USMLE sequence or that Step 1 and Step 2 CK will be combined.

Steps 1 and 2 CK will exist as separate, discrete examinations for at least the next several years. During this time, evolution in content coverage is likely. At some point as USMLE evolves, the current Step structure could shift. If this occurs, stakeholders will be advised of changes well in advance of any change. Plans for transitioning to a new structure will be provided well in advance so that the phase-in will be smooth and equitable, to minimize potential disruptions for examinees, schools, licensing boards, or other constituencies. Additionally, the NBME will be attentive to other uses of USMLE performance data and strive to meet educationally sound secondary uses.

I hope that clears up the rumors.  Always check with NBME and ECFMG if you are unsure about anything.

How I Passed the USMLE Step 2 CK


If you were told that USMLE Step 2 CK is easier than the USMLE Step 1, then who ever told you must’ve taken the Step 2 CK long time ago. Whatever the case may be, Step 2 CK is no longer easier than the Step 1. The passing rate and average of CK is very high and therefore the difficulty has been increased.  Just note that there is no one book to study for the USMLE Step 2 CK. For Step 1 we had the First Aid but for Step 2 CK, the content changes constantly, that I think why authors and publishers have a hard time keeping up with changes.

First of all don’t jump to the USMLE World (UW) question bank, because there are missing information in the explanation of the question bank, because you are expected to know the missing information. You must have some kind of background foundation before you can go over UW.
How to Begin Studying
Before you start studying, research which book for the USMLE Step 2 CK will be good for you. There are several that I know of, which my help you, but everyone is different.
  • Yale G book is very comprehensive source in terms of what you need or may need. It’s designed to give the reader a study source for both Step 2 and Step 3. You can buy it online from the author’s website or from Amazon.com. The book looks hard to read, but it has a lot o high-yield information for the test. According to the author, it has notes from Kaplan and UW and other sources combined and organized. I have a copy of it but I didn’t use for the test so I can’t give a good review of it. It’s a recent published book so not many know of it.
  • Master the Boards for the USMLE Step 2 (MTB2) is an easy read book and it’s used by large number of medical students. However, it has so many missing information that you will get frustrated with it. I may publish my notes online with the MTB’s page number, but that is if I have time. If you use MTB2 then you must use Master the Boards for the USMLE Step 3 (MTB3). The pediatrics and the OB/GYN section from MTB3 is very well written for the USMLE Step 2 CK. I used this book for my test, and I passed it because everyone was laid out, but I still feel a lot of basic sciences were missing, which was a necessity to go over. MTB2 and MTB3 doesn’t have the pathophysiology for a lot of the disorders, just the management.
  • Step Up to Step 2 CK is a book, which is co-authored by Dr. Brian Jenkins from Doctors in Training (DIT). It has good amount of information but you have to supplement it with some other source, MTB2, because “the next best step” is missing in some of the disease sections, if not all. This book has DIT videos that go with it, similar to DIT for Step 1 with First Aid.
  • Kaplan Lecture notes (LN) is used for those who just need to know everything. Kaplan LN is the ultimate source for Step 2 CK, but some management changes with new research. Kaplan LN also has videos that go along with the notes.
Now I recommend you choose at least one book source and stick with it. Now with each section make sure you do questions to drill the information into your head. I recommend Kaplan QBank first. Kaplan may not have the best questions, but their explanation with the supplemental book source, helps in understanding the material. Make sure you do all of Kaplan questions, and do them just ONE TIME. And take notes from the questions. Also, do Kaplan questions by the section you read the book. So if you read Infectious Diseases on MTB then do Infectious Diseases questions from Kaplan Qbank.
After you do Kaplan questions, then do UW by section at least once. I recommend you do UW questions by section at least once because it helps in memorizing the information when you read the other answer choices multiple times. In UW, the wrong answer choices are usually the right answer choices for other questions. After you completed UW once by sections. Reset the question bank and now do it mixed, random, and in timed mode; from now on do all question in this manner.
I recommend you do UW at least THREE TIMES to fully grasp the material. The more times you do UW the better you will be able to master the concepts being tested. As always, do the legit online version, because UW constantly updates their questions, which is the best thing you can get right now because management changes often. However, do not use the percentage correct of UW questions to assess yourself, because it won’t do you any good. The correct percentage does not assess if you know the material or not. UW has a separate assessment test for that.
Assessment Tests
If you also want to increase your access to questions, do the NBME subject based tests and also the comprehensive tests. In terms of which assessment tests give you a predictable score; everyone says UW assessment (UWA) to be closest to predicting it. If your UWA score was in the 220s then it’s kind of unpredictable, but if it’s 230+ then it’s very close to predicting your score.
Unlikely USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK does not have any solid assessment for predicting your score accurately; you just have to do UW as many times as possible.
I hope this helps because getting guidance for Step 2 CK is hard to get, because no one can give you any solid advice.