2+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2016
MD/PhD Student
Hi all, I am an ophthalmology resident in Canada with a few questions about the USMLE I am hoping somebody from the US can help me with.

I am interested in being able to apply for fellowships in the US. I would be writing solely to keep my options open for fellowship, and I see the USMLE is required at some of the programs I would be most interested in attending. I don't have plans to live in the US after finishing a fellowship.

I haven't written Step 1 yet, but I have signed up to write Step 2 CK because it is apparently similar in content to the Canadian licensing exam I wrote recently. I will be doing Step 2 CS in the near future.

My questions are:
1. I don't think I'll have much time to really study for Step 1 - do you think it is wise to wait a year until Step 1 becomes Pass/Fail, and then do it?

2. Is it true that you just have to pass each of these exams, and don't have to do particularly well? Is this true even for top fellowships?

Thanks for any insight!


Attending iDoc
10+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2006
Attending Physician
It's not really the fellowship itself requires USMLE steps scores as a part of the evaluation of a competitive applicant- it's that you will be considered an instructor/supervising attending for residents if at an academic institution or in private practice so that you are able to bill for your services independently.

This requires that you be licensed in that state which requires USMLE Steps 1, 2. and 3 to be passed/complete.

Some places have "international" fellows, I think their rules are a bit different and I don't believe you would be able to deliver care without a supervising licensed attending present. (that's from what I've heard/observed).

But best not to take just the advise from SD, reach out to the institutions that you're interested in and ask them directly.

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