Posted tagged ‘board certification’

Eating My Words and Changing My Mind: New Thoughts on Board Recertification

May 26, 2015

Well, last month I talked about how I was glad I took the boards.  And I still am.  However, since then, a Newsweek article came out trying to make sense of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s financial history, and it’s not good.

While this does not necessarily reflect on the two association I took my boards with (the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Addiction Medicine), the report has definitely made me think twice about the recertification process and the complexities of holding these organizations accountable to the physicians and the public that they serve.

There is a new grassroots organization, called the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons, and it has cropped up as an alternative method of maintaining certification for various specialties in medicine. They are going about this by addressing two major complaints that physicians have about the current board recertification process, which are money and the relevance of the exam itself.

Personally I think that the development of competition in the free market can only be a good thing; and I am very much anticipating the development of this alternative source of recertification. I am also very glad to see physicians taking a stand for themselves, as often times when new changes and new regulations occur, we complain but do not take any action. I am trying to do my part by openly admitting that I made a mistake in writing my last post–while I still believe the initial certification is important and worthwhile, I believe I spoke too broadly in stating that recertification in and of itself is also worthwhile, without examining the current process more closely. I hope others take a stand too, because only together can we effect future change.



I’m Glad I Took the Boards: Thoughts From a Board-Certified Psychiatrist

April 21, 2015

Recently there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding ABIM, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and its board certification requirements.  Currently the board require physicians to take an exam and recertify every 10 years in a process termed MOC, or Maintenance of Certification.  The process is time-consuming and costly, and many physicians claim it does not improve their day-to-day practice.  Doctors have become more vocal in their grievances with the organization, and its possible misuse of funds.

Despite all these criticisms, many physicians continue to comply with the process; not just internists, but in may other specialties, including psychiatry.  At a conference I recently attended, there was a booth set up by ABPN, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.  The representative was there to answer questions for psychiatrists about board certification.  I learned that their requirements have changed, and that in 2020, when I would be up for recertification, I had new requirements to fulfill.  The requirements included performing activities comprised of continuing medical education, self-assessment, improvement in medical practice, and patient safety activities.  When I asked about the cost, the representative brightly told me that some of the modules “likely” have a cost associated with them.  She did not mention the cost of the actual exam.

Mind you, I am board certified in another specialty, Addiction Medicine.  Since I took the exam in 2012, in order to maintain my board-certification, I have to pay the board $400 every year.  This is in addition to the educational requirements I have to complete.

I mention all this not as a complaint, but rather because I’d like to offer another point of view.  Though some physicians could care less about diploma and the board certification it represents, it means a great deal to me.  The day I found out I passed the boards (and I was one of the last classes that had to undergo an oral exam), I was ecstatic. I felt that my hard work had paid off and that this piece of paper was tangible evidence of my journey.  It meant more to me than my residency graduation.

Not only did the exam feel like a milestone, but I felt that the work and effort I put into studying for it was actually useful. The field of psychiatry is constantly changing and I know that when it comes time to recertify, unless there is a viable alternative, I most likely will.  However, I feel that the money that goes into my educational requirements, the board review course I will take (not required but something I find useful), and the cost of the exam itself, will be money well spent.  I will study the topics covered by the exam and I will appreciate the knowledge that I will acquire.

And yes, I will hang up my new diploma.