Dean Ross: “Average is not good enough for us.”

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – All 107 students in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Class of 2015 passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1, better known as “the boards” — for the second year in a row.

This year’s class matched the previous year’s success by achieving a 100 percent pass rate. The achievement is an extraordinary distinction both for the students and for the School.

“I haven’t seen or heard of a school where, two years in a row, 100 percent of the students passed this exam,” Arthur J. Ross, III, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the WVU School of Medicine, said. “If it has occurred, it’s rare.”

The boards are the first step of a three-part examination that medical students must pass to gain licensure to practice medicine in the United States. Until they successfully pass this first step, students may not proceed to the next stage of their medical education.

The exam’s 322 multiple-choice questions are designed to test basic science knowledge learned during the first two years of medical school. Subjects covered include anatomy, behavioral sciences, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. Interdisciplinary areas, including genetics, aging, immunology, nutrition, and molecular and cell biology, are also emphasized.

WVU’s pass rates have historically been in line with the 92 percent average. Dr. Ross credits the School’s recent success in part to a decision by the faculty a few years ago that average was not good enough, which resulted in faculty and students collaborating to restructure the curriculum.

“The students worked very hard to hit this bar, and we are all quite proud of them,” Norman D. Ferrari III, M.D., vice dean for education and academic affairs and professor and chair of the WVU Department of Medical Education, said. “The faculty has worked hard to make alterations to the curriculum based on student feedback in an effort to make each of our learning opportunities significantly better. The student-faculty collaboration is so important to the ultimate success of hitting such an outstanding accomplishment.”

Ross also credited the students for their hard work and their collaborative spirit.

“This class was incredible in the way that they all pulled together and helped each other. I think the passion to help is part of what being a Mountaineer is all about. In some places the competition among students is unpleasantly intense. This is a collaborative environment.”

The students are already turning their attention to the Step Two exam, a two-part exam based on the students’ upcoming clinical experience. That exam will take place in six to eight months.

Drs. Ross and Ferrari will join WVU Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., on Wednesday, Feb. 5 to congratulate and recognize the achievements of the students of Class of 2015. The event will take place at 4 p.m. in the Health Sciences Center’s Fukushima Auditorium.
For more information: Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
sf: 01-23-14