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Cardiovascular societies seek to form their own certification board


Move is the latest sign of unhappiness with ABIM’s MOC process

doctor holding certification symbols ©Tom-stock.adobe.com


Four major cardiovascular societies have announced plans to establish a certification board for cardiovascular medicine.

In a September 21 news release, the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Heart Failure Society of America, Heart Rhythm Society, and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions said they are jointly applying to the American Board of Medical Specialties to create the new board. Certification in their specialties currently comes from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

“It’s time to have a dedicated cardiovascular medicine board of our own; cardiology is a distinct medical specialty and physicians want—and deserve—a clinical competency and continuous certification program that is meaningful to their practice and patients,” B. Hadley Wilson, MD, FACC, president of the ACC, said in the release. “We know that the cardiovascular community is ready for an independent, self-governed entity, and we are proud to develop this new board with cardiologists and cardiology organizations at the helm.”

Much of the motivation for creating the new board appears to stem from dissatisfaction with the ABIM’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. According to the release, the new board will “de-emphasize timed, high stake performance exams….and instead focus on learning assessment to identify gaps in current knowledge or skills,” and offer recommendations for continuing medical education based on the results.

“Importantly, the new board will be developed and overseen by physicians dedicated to the field of cardiovascular medicine. Transparency into board operations will be a key priority,” it adds.

In a blog post, the ABIM said “ABIM Board Certification is a widely recognized national credential that assures the profession and public that a physician has demonstrated – by passing rigorous assessments and completing other learning activities – that they are ready, at the beginning of their career, for independent practice and that they are, over the course of their career, keeping their medical knowledge in their field current.”

It adds that it will “continue offering and administering its initial Certification and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) programs, including the current assessment choices offered for MOC,” and that “any physician choosing to maintain their ABIM certification in these disciplines will continue to have a pathway with ABIM to do so.”

The announcement by the cardiovascular societies is the latest manifestation of the long-simmering discontent with the MOC among many physicians. Earlier this year, an online petition calling for the elimination of MOC garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

In 2015, unhappiness with MOC requirements led a group of physicians to create an alternative organization for certification maintenance, the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons (NBPAS). Paul Teirstein, M.D. an NBPAS founder and its current president, said “I think it’s terrific that like NBPAS, these societies have become disillusioned with the ABIM and MOC and believe they can provide a better alternative. The ABIM needs more competition, and this new board may provide it.” 

Nicole Napoli, ACC director of media relations, said in an email that the application approval process is expected to take “several months,” and that if approved, it would take several more months for the initial and continuous certification programs to begin.


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