January 30, 1998

Chapman named chair of USMLE oversight committee

Chapman named chair of USMLE oversight committee

reporter_1.30.98_6.jpg (12k)

Dr. John Chapman

Dr. John E. Chapman, Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been elected chairman of the national committee responsible for overseeing the examination necessary for licensing all physicians in the United States.

Chapman will serve a two-year term as chairman of the 17-member composite committee of the United States Medical Licensure Examination (USMLE).

The exam is currently the only way to become licensed to practice medicine in the United States. The composite committee is so named because it is a combination of various boards that have been responsible for issuing the examination for many years.

At one time, the responsibility was in the hands of individual states to issue an examination to license physicians. The National Board of Medical Examiners was founded in 1915 to administer a national exam, which most state boards endorsed. A physician endorsed by the national board did not have to take a state board. Later, state boards formed a group to devise a more personalized exam, which became the Federation Licensure Examination, or FLEX.

Confusion ensued as to which state endorsed which test, Chapman said.

³For a variety of reasons, the national board and the federation of state boards got together and chartered a course for a single pathway to licensure," Chapman said.

The USMLE was thus formed.

Today's composite committee is a blend of the national and state boards and members of the Educational Council of Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the group that evaluates foreign medical school graduates.

³I feel that this is an enormous opportunity to ensure quality medical practitioners in the United States,² Chapman said. ³The importance of this committee is that there is only one way to give a license and the committee has the final responsibility for administering the only licensure examination that is operative in the United States. In the past there have been at least three ways.²

There are about 16,000 people graduating from medical schools in the United States each year. Most will become licensed, Chapman said.

The committee will also be responsible for evaluating computer-based testing for licensure. It is expected that the exam, which is now paper and pencil, will become computer-based around the turn of the century.

Separate item

The first annual John E. Chapman Lectureship on the Ecology of Medicine and Medical Education will be presented on Wed., Feb. 4.

Dr. Steven C. Beering, president of Purdue University, will present the lecture at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall. All are invited to attend. A reception will follow in the student lounge.

The lectureship was established by Dr. Richard E. Strain Jr., a 1975 graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is now a physician in the division of Orthopaedics at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. The lectureship was established in memory of Strain¹s father, Dr. Richard E. Strain Sr.

The annual lecture is devoted to subjects that address the changing role of medicine in our culture, with special reference to the medical student.