Review of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam for pain content

Two medical students working together at a desk (c) UC Davis Regents. All rights reserved. Successful completion of the Unites States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is a requirement for medical licensure in the United States and Canada. The exam consists of three steps that test candidates on basic science and clinical knowledge, as well as clinical skills for the proper, unsupervised general practice of medicine.

In response to the development of the Pain Management Core Competencies for prelicensure learners, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) invited a team from the UC Davis Division of Pain Medicine to conduct a secure, on-site review of the United States Medical Licensing Exam for pain content. A dozen United States experts in pain management from multiple medical specialties, as well as other professions (including pain experts from psychology and nursing), led the review.

Results of the review

The results of the review were published in March 2018 in Pain Medicine, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. The journal article, "Scope and Nature of Pain- and Analgesia-Related Content of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)," discusses the need to include exam questions that go beyond mere assessment of pain and test students' knowledge of pain mechanisms and their implications for treatment.

See the journal article