English Language Communication Skills in English for Medical Purposes: Preparing International Medical Graduates for the USMLE Step 2 CS
Van Galen, Mary
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Completing a medical degree and matching into a medical residency are challenging academic endeavors. Even more challenging is matching into a United States medical residency if you are a nonnative English speaker and completed a medical degree at a foreign medical school. Over 25% of United States working physicians are classified as International Medical Graduates (Foreign Medical Doctors). Although English has become the lingua franca of the global medical discourse community, a major hurdle for International Medical Graduates is the demonstration of effective English language communication skills via the passage of the United States Medical Licensing Exam Step 2 Clinical Skills (USMLE Step 2 CS). Traditionally, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers have been asked to teach English to foreign medical students through English courses that focus on medicine. this field of teaching developed into a specialty field entitled English for Medical Purposes (EMP). The lack of medical knowledge of typical EFL teachers has posed challenges for both the students and the teachers. In this paper, I will provide a comprehensive background on EMP. I will look at the challenges faced by International Medical Graduates regarding the five essential English language communication skills in medicine-comprehensive reading, writing, speaking, comprehensive listening, and communicating nonverbally. I will also look at each of these language skills in relationship to the USMLE Step 2 CS. Finally, I will propose a five-day intensive EMP workshop for International Medical Graduates preparing to take or retake the USMLE Step 2 CS.