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Mass. Judge Denies Request by Breastfeeding Mother for More Break Time on Medical Licensing Exam

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Judge Patrick Brady of Norfolk County, Massachusetts Superior Court has denied a motion by a breastfeeding mother for a preliminary injunction that would have given her additional break time for her to pump breast milk during the national medical licensing examination.

According to the Memorandum and Order, Judge Brady did not agree that refusal to permit additional break time during the test burdens the mother's alleged constitutional right to breastfeed. The order states, "Even assuming the constitutional right which the plaintiff is asserting, it is unlikely that she will prevail on the argument that the conditions under which she is required to take the test unfairly burdens her right."

"We are pleased by the opinion of the judge," said Joseph F. Savage, Jr., attorney for the National Board of Medical Examiners, which co-sponsors the exam. "The order listed the measures we have offered Ms. Currier to address her needs and noted that she can choose to take the test or delay until she has finished breastfeeding, if she prefers."

At the time of the hearing, Ms. Currier was scheduled to take the exam later this month at a testing center in Brookline, MA. She has two days of testing time, rather than the one day usually available, to take her exam because the NBME granted accommodations she requested on the basis of dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"We wish Ms. Currier well," said Dr. Ruth Hoppe, spokesperson for the National Board. "We know all examinees invest enormous time and energy in preparing for medical careers. A passing score on the USMLE is accepted by virtually all US licensing boards for use in granting the initial license to practice medicine. We recognize that the stakes are very high for examinees and the public."

The three Steps of the US Medical Licensing Examination are given more than 100,000 times annually. The Step 2 Clinical Knowledge exam, the portion of the exam that is at issue in the lawsuit, is administered year round, five or six days a week at approximately 300 testing sites in the US. Aspiring physicians generally schedule to take the Step exams at their convenience at different points in their medical education and after graduation.

The USMLE is sponsored by two nonprofit organizations, the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Federation of State Medical Boards. Policies governing its administration are established by the USMLE Composite Committee, which includes representatives from the two sponsoring organizations, the public and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates.

SOURCE National Board of Medical Examiners
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