USMLE step-2cs-delay

Official Services Respond to 12-18 Month Delay of USMLE Step 2CS

Please note – USMLE Step 2 CS has been permanently discontinued as of January 26th, 2021. /alert]

The USMLE sent a shockwave through the residency community this Tuesday, May 26th, 2020, when they announced that testing for USMLE Step 2CS would be delayed for 12-18 months. 

This brings up serious questions, for example: What about all the students applying to residency that have yet to complete Step 2CS? 

Let’s look at what the official organizations have to say about this extensive delay of USMLE Step 2CS. 

Here is the announcement made by the USMLE on May 26th, 2020:

“Over the course of the last three months, the USMLE program has considered several options for resuming Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS) testing. This exploration was informed by years of ongoing work charting the future of clinical skills assessment for licensure, including considerations of telehealth (as announced on May 8th). Since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, we have accelerated these efforts. Due to the complexity of technical and psychometric work required, we have determined we will not be able to meet timelines for the immediate release of a revised exam. In making this determination to suspend, we also considered the examinees and stakeholder concerns about the challenges created by rapid deployment of a new test platform. After careful consideration of all factors, we have decided to suspend Step 2 CS test administrations for the next 12-18 months.”

In response, the ECFMG had the following to say:

ECFMG|FAIMER is committed to the continued smooth operation of its certification program and the ability of qualified IMGs to pursue and participate in U.S. GME without interruption. We are engaged in the following activities in response to the suspension of Step 2 CS testing.

  • Identifying alternatives to Step 2 CS that can be available now to allow IMGs to meet the clinical skills requirement for ECFMG Certification and providing an update on these alternatives in the very immediate future;
  • Collaborating with organizations involved in the recruitment and training of medical school graduates in the United States to mitigate disruptions; and
  • Advocating forcefully for the interests of IMGs as plans develop for the continued training of physicians during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.”
NOTE: The ECFMG released 5 Alternative Certification Pathways as of June 16, 2020. Read more about them here.

NRMP® updated their COVID-19 FAQ page accordingly:

“The NRMP does not specifically require that applicants take or pass the CS examination in order to participate in the Match. The NRMP requires that U.S. applicants meet the requirements for graduation set by their medical school and the eligibility criteria set by their matched residency training program. International medical graduate (IMGs) applicants must meet the exam requirements set by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) to achieve ECFMG certification. NRMP will continue to work with the NBME, ECFMG, and other medical education organizations to understand the implications of this decision on applicants planning to participate in the 2021 Main Residency Match. NRMP leadership will communicate as needed with constituents.”


As a potential residency applicant, these announcements regarding USMLE Step 2CS may come as a shock, only adding to what is already a stressful and taxing situation.

Although the effects of such protocols may be hard to deal with, it is important to remember why they are being made: to maximize the safety of the greatest number of people – applicants, test personnel, healthcare workers, patients, families, and society as a whole.

As organizations like the USMLE and ECFMG continue to define what the road ahead will look like, we will continue to provide residency applicants with pertinent and actionable information.

Until then, be safe, breathe deep, and take care of yourself and those around you.


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