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Entire WVU med class passes first licensure exam

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In every medical student's second year, getting past one major milestone looms large. Passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, better known as "the boards," is not only required to practice medicine in the U.S.; it is necessary to remain in the third year of medical school.

All of the students in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Class of 2014 have a reason to cheer: Each has passed this crucial exam on the first attempt.

"This is a series of personal accomplishments that in the aggregate are a huge team win. In the world of medical education. This is tantamount to pitching back-to-back perfect games or having an undefeated season," said WVU School of Medicine Dean Arthur J. Ross.

"It is a first for me in my many years of medical school administration," Ross said. "This rare and phenomenal accomplishment is well worth celebrating. Every member of the class and everyone who has participated in or somehow supported their education needs to take a bow."

The exam's 322 multiple-choice questions are designed to test basic science knowledge learned during the first two years of medical school. Subjects covered include anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology. Interdisciplinary areas, including genetics, aging, immunology, nutrition and molecular and cell biology, are also emphasized.

Performance is one of the selection criteria used in the National Resident Matching Program, which places graduating medical students in their residency programs. A passing score on the exam indicates that a medical student has grasped the core scientific knowledge taught during the basic sciences' years, explained School of Medicine Vice Dean for Medical Education Norman Ferrari.

"We are so very proud of the students in the Class of 2014 for this monumental accomplishment," Ferrari said. "Our curriculum committee has been very active in its responsibility to constantly review and improve our curriculum and course offerings so that we can provide the best learning environment for our students. The faculty has worked very hard to challenge our students so they would be ready to perform on this first step to licensure. Each has risen to the occasion and has made us all quite proud."

Drs. Ross and Ferrari will join WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda on Mon., Jan. 7 to congratulate and recognize the achievements of the students of Class of 2014.