About Step 2 CS

The communication skills component of the exam are evaluated through the following 5 areas:

  1. Fostering the relationship
  2. Gathering information
  3. Information provision
  4. Making decisions
  5. Supporting emotions
  6. Enabling patient behaviors

Each of these components will have sub-functions. Initially, the USMLE will focus on functions 1-5. Over the longer term, more advanced functions will be incorporated.

Implementing the new model will alter how standardized patients (SPs) are trained as well as broadening the range of behaviors on which examinees will be evaluated. One consequence of the new evaluation process is the elimination of the history checklist formerly used by SPs to evaluate whether certain examinee behaviors occurred. SPs will now be trained on a particular personality profile, thus allowing them to respond in a more natural manner to examinee questions.

The NBME's decision to refine the CS examination was based on the ever-increasing awareness of the importance of communication skills and changes in the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. More patient-centered approaches, more patient involvement in decision-making and the need to support patients in making life-style changes are now commonplace and vital physician duties. Because residents are deeply involved in all of these types of activities, the assessment of their communication skills must reflect and be adapted to assess these activities as well. To be assured of taking Step 2 CS in its current format, you should act quickly to enroll in a Kaplan Step 2 CS course and schedule an examination date.

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