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MRCP(UK) vs. USMLE: A Comprehensive Guide for International Medical Graduates



“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) face a unique set of challenges when pursuing medical careers in the United States or the United Kingdom. One of the biggest decisions they face is which medical licensing exam to take - the USMLE or the MRCP(UK). Let's compare and contrast these two exams, so you can make a better decision about which one to take.


for IMGs The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a three-part exam that IMGs must pass to practice medicine in the United States. Each step of the exam is taken at a different point in the medical training process.


The USMLE exam is divided into three parts: Step 1, Step 2 CK (Clinical Knowledge), and Step 2 CS (Clinical Skills). Step 1 is a computer-based exam that tests basic science knowledge, while Step 2 CK is a computer-based exam that tests clinical knowledge. Step 2 CS is a hands-on exam that tests clinical skills.


Pros:

  • Passing the USMLE can open up a wide range of job opportunities in the United States. You could take up residency in any department after clearing your USMLE.

  • The USMLE is a recognised and respected exam worldwide.

  • The USMLE has a high pass rate for IMGs.

  • The USMLE Step 1 exam is now a Pass/Fail exam instead of the previous version of scaled scores.

  • The USMLE Exam is a licensing requirement to get into residency training in the United States.

  • The USMLE Step 1 is considered one of the most challenging exams, albeit with a pass rate of around 94%.

Cons:

  • The USMLE is a thoroughly difficult exam that requires a lot of preparation.

  • The total cost of taking the USMLE and subsequent residency is very high. Step 1 costs $660, Step 2 CK costs $660, and Step 3 costs $915. Check out the latest USMLE fees here.

  • IMGs may face bias when taking the USMLE in matching.

for IMGs The Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP) is a medical licensing exam for doctors who wish to practice medicine in the United Kingdom.


The MRCP exam is divided into two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 is a computer-based exam that tests knowledge of clinical science and patient management. Part 2 is a written and practical exam that tests clinical skills and knowledge.


Pros:

  • The MRCP is a respected and recognised exam in the United Kingdom and worldwide. It is the world standard for post-graduation in the Dept of Internal Medicine.

  • The MRCP is often considered more relevant and practical than the USMLE.

  • The cost of taking the MRCP is lower than the USMLE. The cost of taking the MRCP Part 1 is £616(Int.), MRCP Part 2 Written is £616(Int.) and the cost of taking Part 2 PACES is £1,202(Int.). Check out the latest MRCP Part 1 fees.

Cons:

  • The MRCP is a difficult exam that requires a lot of preparation. The MRCP Part 1 has a pass rate of around 33-40%. Read our article on Passing the MRCP Part 1 on your 1st attempt here.

  • Passing the MRCP does not guarantee a job in the United Kingdom.

  • The MRCP has a lower pass rate for IMGs than the USMLE.

  • MRCP Exam is not a licensing requirement to get into residency training in the UK (PLAB is!).

Which Exam Should I Take?

If you are an IMG planning to practice medicine in the United States, then the USMLE is the obvious choice. It is widely recognised in the United States and is a requirement for medical licensure and residency training in most states.

On the other hand, if you are an IMG planning to practice medicine in the UK, Middle-East or other countries where the MRCP is recognised, then the MRCP may be a better choice. It will test your knowledge and skills in the areas that are relevant to your practice.

Ultimately, the decision to take the USMLE or MRCP should be based on your personal career goals, financial situation and the requirements of the country where you plan to practice medicine. We've outlined every aspect of both these exams for you to take a better decision.

Good Luck!


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