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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Importance of USMLE)



The USMLE is an important factor in the physical medicine & rehabilitation residency selection process.


In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 226. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 210.


Applicants with lower USMLE scores need to strengthen their credentials in as many areas as possible, and work closely with an advisor to develop a strategy for match success.


If you have such concerns, consider our Strategy for Success Session with Dr. Samir Desai.


Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation and school.


This plan will significantly increase your chances of a successful match outcome.

USMLE Step 1 and 2CK: Important Points for the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Residency Applicant



1 In 2016, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among U.S. seniors who matched to physical medicine & rehabilitation was 226. Among unmatched U.S. seniors, the mean score was 210.



2 In a survey of 30 physical medicine & rehabilitation residency programs, 87% cited the USMLE Step 1 score as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. 



3 Among the reasons for the importance of the USMLE in the selection process is the desire to select residents who will pass the American Board of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation board certification examination. 



4 Although programs differ in how USMLE Step 1 scores are used in the residency selection process, the score is an important factor used to make interview decisions. Fifty percent of programs have established a target score while 47% look for evidence of a passing score. 



5 Applicants with low USMLE Step 1 scores may have difficulty matching with physical medicine & rehabilitation residency programs. Nineteen percent of U.S. seniors with scores < 220 failed to match in 2016.



6 The USMLE Step 2 CK score is also a factor used by some physical medicine & rehabilitation residency programs in deciding whom to invite for interviews. Eighty percent of programs use the Step 2 CK score in their decision-making process.



7 Should you take the USMLE Step 2 CK exam before applying to physical medicine & rehabilitation? Some programs want to see Step 2 scores when you apply. Applicants are urged to visit program websites as early as possible so that informed decisions can be made with respect to the timing of the USMLE Step 2 CK exam. 



8 Some programs want to see Step 2 scores before rank-order lists are due for submission in February. Review of program websites will allow for proper planning. "We look for strong board scores and a pass on the first attempt," writes the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Virginia. "M4’s should have sat or scheduled Step II, CS and CK, by the time of interview – with passing scores on first attempt required by the end of interview season."



9 When physical medicine & rehabilitation residency program directors were asked, “Would your program consider applicants who fail their [Step 1] exam on the 1st attempt,” 13% of programs indicated that they never do and 70% reported that they seldom do. Twenty-one percent of programs indicated that they often do.