The Occupational English Test should NOT be a condition for entering the Match

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In order to preserve the health of both examiners and examinees, the USMLE Step 2 CS exam was suspended until at least June 2021.[1] What has taken its place for international medical students is the option to fulfill the ECFMG accreditation with one of five pathways, as well as an English-proficiency test.[2] The Occupational English Test (OET) is the officially-accepted English proficiency test now required of IMG’s in order to enter The Match. However, the OET requirement is an unfair and unsafe, for-profit exam taking advantage of an already vulnerable portion of medical school applicants.

Passing the OET test should not be a condition for entering the Match this year. Especially, the Writing component of the test is scored very subjectively. Many native English-speakers have failed this test despite scoring well on other components and practice tests. Students who failed the OET test not only have to pay an additional $400 to retake the ENTIRE test but also face difficulties rescheduling a retake in time to get ECFMG-certified. Without ECFMG certification, they cannot enter the Match.

While the confirmation of an applicant’s English-proficiency is a vital component of the selection process, it is simply unnecessary for many IMG applicants. There are a large number of IMG applicants that come from schools such as American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, Sackler School of Medicine, The University of Queensland-Ochsner Clinical School, and others who are doing their two years of clinical education in US hospitals already. Additionally, these schools teach their curriculum in English, making another English-proficiency test superfluous.[4,5,6]

Along with the prior-mentioned issues, the test also comes at a significant monetary cost to IMG students. Not only does the test cost in excess of $400, but those students who have to travel to a testing site are likely going to be spending hundreds of dollars more for airline travel, accommodation, and other travel expenses. Those students who need to retake the test have to spend another $400.

Taking these facts into account, we do not support the mistreatment of IMG candidates who have already proved their English-proficiency through a US undergraduate degree, a medical school curriculum taught in English, or through their performance of two years of clinical rotations in US hospitals.

PROPOSAL:

We STRONGLY request that the OET requirement be removed for the sake of IMGs who have been struggling and working for years to achieve residency.

The current COVID/USMLE Step 2CS crisis has left too many of us felt abandoned, confused, and terrified of whether we will certify in time for match despite the years of hard work we have put in to get here. Please make it easier for us to achieve our dreams, and not more difficult.

This is not the time for stringency, but rather leniency.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

References:

United States Medical Licensing Examination | Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills). Usmle.org. https://usmle.org/step-2-cs/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
Requirements for ECFMG Certification for 2021 Match. ECFMG. https://www.ecfmg.org/certification-requirements-2021-match/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
OET - The English Language Test for Healthcare Professionals. OET - Occupational English Test. https://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
AUC Medical School - Discover AUC’s Caribbean Med School. AUC School of Medicine. https://www.aucmed.edu/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
Sacklerschool.org. https://www.sacklerschool.org/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
Ochsner MD Program. Ochsner.uq.edu.au. https://ochsner.uq.edu.au/ Published 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.