In medicine, the top 3 measures of a physician's value lie in certification, certification and certification.
This is especially true in the United States.
I have heard from doctors throughout the country who want to know if the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is a necessary pre-requisite for non-clinical positions.
The answer to this frequent question is - sometimes the USMLE helps and sometimes it doesn't.
What is the USMLE?
You are required to pass parts 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) in order to get your MD degree from a US medical school. And you cannot receive a medical license without passing parts 1, 2 and 3 of the USMLE.
The tricky part is that it is recommended to take part 3 of the USMLE after your internship- and it has been getting harder and harder for foreign medical graduates, international medical graduates, and some US medical graduates to match into residency programs in recent years. More doctors can't match into an internship than ever before, and thus they cannot get a medical license.
And some doctors-in-training already know that they want to get out of clinical medicine early in the medical training process. This is where the question of how to succeed without taking the USMLE comes up.
To find out more about 'dropping out' of residency, see here.
What if I can't take the USMLE?
If you absolutely cannot take the USMLE, but still want to work, you have to really decide whether you want to stay in the medical field or not. There are other ways to work in the medical field, and becoming an expert in regulatory matters is one of the most powerful steps you can take.
Fortunately, even without the USMLE, there are a number of non-clinical entry level positions which require some form of official specialty certification. For example, a clinical research associate can earn between $40-75/hr without residency, and must take a specialized training course.
Learn more about jobs for doctors without residency or licensing here.