USMLE Step 1 is a high stakes exam with significant repercussions on a medical student’s future career choice in medicine and the ability to choose a particular geographic location for residency training. The emphasis and importance of the USMLE Step 1 has increased over the past 10 years as witnessed by increased incorporation of NBME practice exams, increased time allotted to dedicated preparation for the exam at medical schools, and national surveys of residency directors across many medical specialties. The USMLE Step 1 can only be taken once unless the test-taker has failed, in which case the notation of a prior failure remains permanently on the student’s transcript. Many students report significant stress leading up to and during test day itself. However, it has not been examined whether the response of students following a failure on Step 1 meets certain diagnostic criteria associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this pilot study, we plan to specifically screen for PTSD-like symptoms among students who have received a failing score following their first attempt at the Step 1 exam.
Currently, we have 3 medical schools that will be participating in this pilot study. We are looking for additional schools to collaborate with on this pilot evaluation.
Nina Kagan, MSW