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Date Updated: April 10, 2018

Outreach to Students Continues

Posted: April 10, 2018

April 10, 2018 — In an effort to broaden its outreach, colleagues from the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) program hosted the inaugural meeting of the Medical Student and Resident Advisory Panel to the USMLE Program. The meeting, facilitated by staff from the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), was held at the FSMB’s headquarters in Euless, TX. The meeting was designed to:

  • Collect feedback from medical students and residents on issues and topics specific to USMLE
  • Test assumptions about the USMLE with an examinee audience
  • Gain insight into the perspective of examinees on USMLE policy issues

Staff who facilitated the meeting felt it was a great step toward relationship building with examinees. “We asked a couple of questions about the students’ experiences in medical school, and we were off and running, having a great conversation,” said Suzanne McEllhenney, director, Program Management. “The students and residents were really curious about one another and about us. And we were curious about them.”

Having made some connections the night before, panel members were eager to get to work on day one. Following an overview of the USMLE program, staff engaged with the participants about their experience of what was working and what wasn’t working in USMLE. The discussion covered topic areas such as the USMLE website, test day experience, fairness/transparency, engagement with stakeholders, the application process, exam design, and scores.

While much of the feedback was expected, there were a number of comments that surprised staff. “The panel members gave us a very clear message that we could do a lot of good by putting information together for schools in a more standard way to help level examinees’ experience,” said McEllhenney.

Dr. Michael Barone, vice president, Licensure, said that deep listening was the order of the day at the meeting. “The challenge will be how to scale the listening,” he said. “I left the meeting wondering how can we broaden our listening, and how can we convey to a broader audience that we are listening.”

It wasn’t only program administrators who were listening. The panelists came with a high level of engagement.

Dr. Barone facilitated an exercise with panel members intended to encourage panelists to view current USMLE program challenges from the perspective of various stakeholders. Panel members divided into two groups, taking on the role of a high-scoring examinee, a low-scoring examinee, a member of the public, medical school faculty (e.g., curriculum dean), a state medical board, or a residency program director. After the group discussed a few topics from a variety of perspectives, panel members said they found the exercise to be very enlightening and some were surprised that their opinions on the topics changed after discussing the challenges and impacts from another point of view.

Colleagues brought back other learnings as well, such as a broader understanding of students’ desire for engagement with the USMLE program. They look forward to follow-up calls with panel members and planning for the 2019 meeting.


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