Clinical skills testing postponed due to pandemic, pleasing most med students

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A hands-on test for medical students is the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic. 

For years, medical students have been graded by practice patients based on their people skills and ability to diagnose issues, as part of a day-long evaluation called the Step 2 Clinical Skills test. 

Due to the pandemic, testing has been put on hold for at least a year. 

But Dr. Michael DellaVecchia, president-elect of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, assured there’s no need to worry that future doctors won’t have the necessary skills to treat patients.

“Med students usually have residents, fellows and clinical professors over their shoulders with them when they address patients,” he said, “so there are many, many ways for a long time to assess the clinical skills of a doctor in training.”

Many students, like Dr. Neel Nabar, a fourth-year medical student at Thomas Jefferson University, are content skipping the test — as it costs them $1,200 just to sign up. 

“(The test is) only offered at five places around the country,” Nabar said, “and as a result, students often have to travel and get a hotel for the night, taking the test and flying back. All in all, it’s probably a $2,000 affair for a test that historically has a 99% pass rate.”

He echoed DellaVecchia, noting med students are constantly evaluated by others during their training, and because most medical schools have their own versions of the skills test, Nabar sees no reason to pay for this one.