Maintaining certification: gold standard or is luster tarnished?

July 10, 2017

Maintaining certification, specifically under the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), has come under fire for a number of reasons, ranging from test material that has no connection to day-to-day practice to the salaries of those running the organization.

In the rankings of anger-causing acronyms physicians contact us about at Medical Economics, maintenance of certification (MOC) sits comfortably atop the list, looking down at EHR and CMS.

 

Further reading: Docs sound off, question MOC

 

Maintaining certification, specifically under the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), has come under fire for a number of reasons, ranging from test material that has no connection to day-to-day practice to the salaries of those running the organization. Doctors often feel held hostage to the test to retain hospital privileges and remain on payer panels. 

The American Board of Medical Specialties, which oversees the ABIM and 23 other specialty boards touts its 80-year evolution of “standards for medical specialty practice and certification to support advancements in medicine, science and technology.” 

While I’m sure the information on MOC exams are up-to-date, the methods used to test physicians are not. Requiring physicians to sit for an SAT-style test in a testing center, where they must empty their bags and pockets like going through airport security, is outdated and perhaps not the best use of their time. Although the ABIM is moving to a shorter, open-book and even online platform, if these organizations truly represent physicians, they should be more accommodating in testing methods and the costs incurred.

 

Funny Bone Comics: Is there a MOC for monks?

 

As you’ll read in this issue, the cost of maintaining certification is an issue in and of itself. From purchasing testing materials (often furnished by the same groups who administer the test; a little “double dipping” there) to lodging and travel expenses and even having to close a practice or find coverage for the day, this is no small price tag for today’s private practice physician.

Next: Is board certification as it exists in 2017 still a necessity? 

 

So to recap: Medical boards are costing physicians time and money, both essential to running a practice and ensuring patient care. This then begs the question: Is board certification as it exists in 2017 still a necessity? I say no.

 

Editorial: ABIM needs to look in the mirror when discussing lack of trust

 

Board certification doesn’t speak to the physician’s bedside manner or how they deal with the real challenges of healthcare today. 

You can bet that the vast majority of physicians maintain their CME credits, stay up-to-date on guidelines and spend numerous hours-mainly uncompensated hours-figuring out answers to complex patient problems. 

Physicians face enough tests every day. Let’s laud them, not put additional obstacles in their way. 

 

Keith L. Martin is editorial director of
Medical Economics. Do you think board certification truly establishes “good doctors”? Tell us at medec@ubm.com.