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Acad Med. 1993 Oct;68(10):753-9.

Use of the USMLE to select residents.

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University of Alabama School of Medicine, Office of Educational Development, Birmingham 35294-2041.


Many studies have examined the relationships between students' performances on the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Part I and Part II examinations and their postgraduate clinical performances. Most studies have found a positive relationship between students' NBME examination scores and the ratings of residents' clinical performances and/or scores on specialty board certification examinations. Surveys of residency directors have also shown that NBME scores are used as part of the process for selecting residents, although other data and other selection criteria are considered more useful than the NBME scores. One area of continued concern is that a large body of data on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is not yet available. However, the predictive validity of the NBME scores supports the use of USMLE scores as part of the review process to screen potential residents. Residency directors should continue to use a variety of criteria in their final selection decisions and are encouraged to use their own program-specific data to establish and monitor particular cutoff scores for screening applicants.

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