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Massachusetts State Court Hears Suit by Breastfeeding Mother on Medical Licensing Exam

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Judge Patrick Brady heard arguments yesterday in the lawsuit brought in Superior Court in Norfolk, Massachusetts by a breastfeeding mother seeking extra break time during the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

"Fairness to all examinees and the integrity of the exam remain the overriding concerns of the exam's sponsors," said Joseph F. Savage, Jr., lawyer for the National Board of Medical Examiners, which co-sponsors the exam and was named in the suit brought by Sophie Currier and her infant daughter. "Our position remains that the exam's sponsors have in no way violated Ms. Currier's legal rights and have, in fact, done everything they can to address Ms. Currier's needs, consistent with exam policies."

Dr. Ruth Hoppe, NBME spokesperson, added, "We can assure all examinees that we continually review our policies on break time during the exam. But the stakes for public safety are too high for us to make decisions on a one-by- one, ad hoc basis."

Existing USMLE policy allows accommodations such as more testing or break time only for examinees with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit them in a major life activity, as set out in the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). As shown in her court filings, Ms. Currier had been granted two days, rather than the one day usually available, to take her exam because she has dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Additional arrangements that the exam's sponsors have offered Ms. Currier include:

-- Privacy, within the constraints of exam security, in the room that she

receives on account of her ADA disability to permit her to pump milk

while taking the test and on break time.

-- Permission to bring food and drink into the testing room so she could

eat and drink at any time during her test and/or break time.

-- Permission to bring multiple, assembled pumps to eliminate the time

involved in cleaning, assembling and disassembling them.

-- A sample schedule demonstrating how an examinee can flexibly manage

the time to take a 20 to 30 minute break every two or three hours.

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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