Internists to get new option for maintaining board certification

August 26, 2019

ABIM reveals plans for “self-paced pathway” to demonstrate knowledge

Internists can look forward to a new path for maintaining their board certification.

            The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced on its blog Friday that it plans to develop a “longitudinal assessment” option for internists to maintain certification. The new certification option will offer “a self-paced pathway for physicians to acquire and demonstrate ongoing knowledge,” according to the blog post.

            In addition, the new option will immediately inform test-takers whether their response to a question was correct, along with the rationale and links to educational materials. This process assures doctors that their medical knowledge is up-to-date and provides “learning activities to address gaps,” according to the post, which is signed by Marianne M. Green, MD, FACP, chair of the ABIM’s board of directors, and Richard Baron, MD, MACP, president and chief executive officer.

            The announcement includes no date for when the new option will be offered, but in an e-mailed response to a query Baron said, “We understand there are questions about when the longitudinal assessment option will be available, and ABIM plans to share more details about a timeline later this fall.”

In developing the longitudinal assessment option, the announcement says, the ABIM is recognizing that some doctors prefer a continuous educational process that better integrates into their lives, and allows them to learn at their own pace while accessing the resources they use in their practice.

The new option is, to some extent, the board’s latest response to criticism over the  maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements dating back more than two decades. In the late 1990s the ABIM said that beginning in 2000, physicians who certified after 1990 would have to recertify every 10 years.   

Criticism intensified in 2014 when ABIM announced that doctors would need to earn accreditation points on a continual basis over the 10 years between taking the recertifying examination. The outcry led to modifications of some MOC requirements, along with an apology from Baron. The controversy also spawned an alternative maintenance-certification group, the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons.

The ABIM says it plans to continue offering its current “knowledge check-in” and day-long examination certification paths.

The ABIM certifies over 200,000 internists, or about 25 percent of physicians in the U.S.