USMLE Irregular Behavior: Exam Content Shared on Telegram
For more than a decade, our firm has defended individuals in connection with allegations of irregular behavior, including in hearings before the USMLE Committee for Individualized Review (CIR) and the ECFMG Medical Education Credentials Committee (MECC). On this blog, we have written at length about the consequences of a finding of irregular behavior, including the requirement that such findings be reported on state medical board licensing applications. Our extensive experience gives us insight into trends and changes within the irregular behavior enforcement arena, which, on occasion, we have reported on this blog. For example, we previously wrote about the role of social media in accusations of irregular behavior, as well as the increase of irregular behavior allegations brought by ECFMG for submission, to foreign medical licensing agencies, of falsified documents.
Over the course of the last 18 months, there has been a proliferation of irregular behavior allegations based upon the circulation of unauthorized examination content on social media through the document sharing application Telegram. The USMLE Program is usually made aware that its exam content is being shared online through the STOPit! app, which permits people to anonymously report any perceived violations of USMLE policies. Once made aware, USMLE has a confidential intermediary (think “undercover agent” or “secret shopper”) obtain the document online. Once obtained, USMLE officials examine the properties and metadata of the file and, provided further investigation warrants, bring allegations of irregular behavior against any individuals whose “digital fingerprints” they can trace to the document. In our experience, allegations of irregular behavior have been brought not only against the “author” and individual who “last modified” the document, but also to those in Telegram groups and on Telegram channels who may have shared or commented on the document.
If you find yourself the subject of an allegation of irregular behavior for reproducing, sharing, or possessing USMLE examination content, either on Telegram or otherwise, our experienced attorneys stand ready to assist.