WOW — Only in this quasi-governmental agency can a United States medical student be accused of conduct, be determined to have committed “irregular behavior”, but not be permitted to see the evidence against them or cross examine the USMLE staff person who made the determination. This is called a denial of DUE PROCESS.
I represent several clients accused of “Irregular Behavior” based upon the suggestion that they possessed “Live Content”. Live content is any previous or current USMLE testing content. USMLE defines Irregular Behavior as
- Irregular behavior includes all actions or attempted actions on the part of applicants, examinees, potential applicants, or others that could subvert the examination process. Examples of irregular behavior include, but are not limited to: failing to comply with any USMLE policy, procedure, and/or rule; seeking and/or obtaining unauthorized access to examination materials; providing false information; impersonating an examinee or having someone else test in one’s place; giving assistance to or receiving assistance from another individual in answering test items; possessing unauthorized items, equipment or materials during an examination; altering or misrepresenting examination scores; engaging in disruptive or unprofessional behavior at a test center; theft of examination materials; unauthorized reproduction by any means and/or dissemination of examination content or other copyrighted materials; posting or discussing examination content on any website, or asking others to do so; and taking any other action that could give an inappropriate advantage to individuals who might be taking the examination.
USMLE staff determine “Irregular Behavior” and assess whether there is sufficient evidence to conclude that irregular behavior may have occurred. However, the staff person that makes the conclusion is not identified and is not subject to any questioning by the testee before any committee meeting, hearing, or appeal.
In my recent case, my client is accused of seeking and/or obtaining unauthorized access to examination materials. However, the USMLE will not allow me to see the hand written study materials my client brought to the testing center. The USMLE will not let me look at the materials to which my client’s notes are compared to determine the notes are prior USMLE content. The case study preparation information is common place information contained in many study guides, medical school test preparation courses, and medical school text book. It is an amazing allegation and responsibility to handle this case with such staggering repercussions.
This medical school students entire professional career is in question based upon the consequences of this accusation of Irregular Behavior. The specific consequences are extreme, at a minimum requiring the student to explain this occurrence at every residency, rotation, and licensing application.
If the USMLE Committee for Individualized Review (“CIR”) determines that irregular behavior has occurred, an annotation to that effect will be entered in the USMLE record of the examinee, and this annotation will appear on applicable score reports (if scores are reported) and on transcripts for that examinee. Information regarding the decision of the CIR and the basis for such decision may also be provided to legitimately interested entities, including the Federation of State Medical Boards’ Physician Data
If the CIR determines, in its discretion, that an individual engaged in irregular behavior that is sufficiently serious to warrant such action, the individual may be barred from future administrations of USMLE or subjected to special procedures for taking future USMLE examinations, in addition to being subject to the actions described in Paragraph A.2, above
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