UC Davis School of Medicine students score above national average in licensing examination

Photo of students in class © 2009 UC Regents
UC Davis students excel in a key test of the scientific foundations of medical practice and physician competence.

In their first big test toward becoming physicians, second-year medical students at UC Davis outpaced students from other schools in the United States and Canada in their initial medical licensing examination. In results released earlier this month, UC Davis School of Medicine students scored above the national average in all sections of the Step 1 U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, which more than 19,000 students took last year.

Throughout medical school training, students are tested in three phases, or steps. Students must pass each step to become licensed physicians. Ninety-nine percent of the UC Davis students taking this initial exam received a passing score. Among all medical students taking the test, 93 percent passed.

Step 1 assesses a student’s understanding and application of important concepts necessary for the practice of medicine, with an emphasis on the principles and mechanisms underlying health, disease and modes of therapy. The initial exam includes subjects that range from biochemistry and gross anatomy to pathology and the gastrointestinal and renal/urinary systems. It is designed to ensure a mastery of both the science that provides a foundation for safe and competent medical practice and the principles needed to maintain physician competence.

“The Step 1 exam is just a snapshot in our students’ overall medical studies,” said James Nuovo, professor of family and community medicine and associate dean for Student Affairs and Graduate Medical Education. “It shows remarkable achievement that continues to get better each year. Not only does the test indicate how hard the students work to master key concepts underlying the practice of medicine, it also reflects the accomplishments of our faculty, who’ve done a terrific job developing effective and dynamic training programs and coursework to enable our students to succeed.”

Photo of Dr. James Nuovo © UC Regents"The Step 1 exam is just a snapshot in our students’ overall medical studies. It shows remarkable achievement that continues to get better each year."
— James Nuovo

In the United States and its territories, individual medical licensing authorities such as state medical boards set specific rules and regulations for practicing medicine. The USMLE testing provides a common evaluation system that the medical boards rely on to help determine the qualifications for licensing physicians.

UC Davis School of Medicine is among the nation's leading medical schools, recognized for its specialty-and primary-care programs.The school offers combined medical and master's degree programs in public health, business administration, and rural health, as well as a combined medical and doctoral degree for physician scientists interested in addressing specific scientific, social, ethical and political challenges of health care. Along with being a leader in health-care research, the school is known for its commitment to people from underserved communities and a passion for clinical care. For more information, visit UC Davis School of Medicine.