How can International Doctors transition to the USA?

The answer is easy by completing the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) this is a three-part exam, comprised of STEP 1, STEP 2-divided into Clinical Knowledge (STEP 2 CK) and Clinical Skills (STEP 2 CS) and USMLE STEP 3. This journey is a long and arduous process, from the initial application for the exams to Medical School verification and becoming ECFMG Certified. It is a bureaucratic process for IMGs, whether you are a student from France, Switzerland, Australia, Africa, India, or the West Indies. The initial application process can be frustrating. For European students, this takes at least 2 weeks until you are even able to schedule your first exam date.

For Caribbean students, this process may even take much longer, from 2 to 6 months for your medical school verification to be completed. Therefore, it is imperative for you to start the application process early.
At Healthy Waves, we recommend starting the application process at least six months in advance of your desired test date. Otherwise, you may have to reschedule based on your initial exam eligibility period.

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What is the structure of the USMLE?

USMLE Step 1 is designed to test the basic sciences, with special emphasis on the principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease, and therapeutics. Step 1 is a one-day examination. It is divided into seven 60-minute blocks, done over a single 8-hour testing session, with 45 minutes ‘break time’.

USMLE Step 2 CK is a 9-hour exam, done in one day. It assesses a candidate’s ability to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care.

USMLE Step 2 CS was a clinical skills exam, which assessed the ability of examinees to apply medical knowledge, skills, and understanding of clinical science essential for the provision of patient care under supervision, it places special emphasis on health education, promotion, and the prevention of diseases. This ensures that candidates have patient-centered skills that provide the foundation for the safe practice of medicine. During your CS exam, you will have twelve patient encounters, with 15 minutes for each case and then 10 minutes for writing your patient’s case note. Examinees are assessed on three separate subcomponents: Communication and Interpersonal Skills (CIS), Spoken English Proficiency (SEP) and Integrated Clinical Encounter (ICE). All candidates must pass all three subcomponents, to achieve a passing grade on Step 2 CS. Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, the USMLE CS has been DISCONTINUED.

What is USMLE STEP 3?

USMLE Step 3 is the final USMLE examination and results in licensure as a US Physician. It assesses your aptitude and application of medical knowledge and understanding of medical and clinical science, which is necessary for the unsupervised practice of medicine. The questions are focused on patient management in ambulatory and emergency settings, along with a few scientific abstracts and drug advertisements. Step 3 is a two-day exam, with a mixture of simulations. Day 1 of USMLE Step 3- assesses the Foundations of Independent Practice (FIP), while ‘Day 2 of USMLE Step 3’- assesses Advanced Clinical Medicine (ACM) with thirteen clinical case simulations (CCS).

What are the best resources for USMLE?


There are three major resources that we recommend for your USMLE Preparation, regardless of if you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG) or American Medical Graduate (AMG).


A must have book is called “First Aid for the USMLE”, this is a concise summary covering all the topics needed for the examination, focusing on high yield facts. The book has First Aid for USMLE Step 1, First Aid for USMLE Step 2 CK, CS and First Aid for USMLE Step 3. Note that First Aid series is a “summary book” and if you attempt to read and understand this book without some prior knowledge, it will be extremely hard and time consuming. Therefore, ensure you focus on your clinical clerkships and do group studying if possible or consult with a USMLE expert, to have a solid foundation.


The second invaluable resource is U World Question Bank. This question bank consists of about 1500 to 2000 questions per USMLE Step (1, 2 CK and Step 3). The style of questions and difficulty level is remarkably like the actual questions asked in the USMLE examinations. This is an effective way to familiarize yourself with the question format you will face on the day of your exam.

The final invaluable resource to use is Healthy Waves Expert USMLE consulting services, whether you are now starting your USMLE journey or are in the application and interview season. We are here to help you to succeed. If you or someone you know would benefit from Expert USMLE Consultation or would like assistance with the USMLE residency interview process, then feel free to reach out to us, via e-mail at: healthywaves@yahoo.com or text us on WhatsApp at 592-638-0115.

Published by Healthy Waves

Healthy Waves is a medical business founded in Georgetown Guyana, which engages in health education, medical supplies, and consulting services.

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