Board Meeting Emphasizes Balance for Candidates, Diplomates
By Robert M. Barr, MD, ABR President; Cheri L. Canon, MD, ABR President-elect; and Matthew B. Podgorsak, PhD, ABR Board of Trustees Chair
The ABR Board of Governors (BOG) and Board of Trustees (BOT) met for several days in early October and engaged in highly productive discussions on a broad range of topics. Some pertained to focused decisions on policies or actions, whereas others were ideas for improvement that will require further conversation over the next few months. Considerations of targeted projects were mixed with earnest discussions regarding the board’s obligation to serve our mission to patients and the public. It would be impossible to summarize a week’s worth of overlapping meetings in this piece, but here are some of the highlights.
Board members are excited by advances made in the development of the new myABR platform, scheduled for a stepwise release in 2024. After logging in, candidates and diplomates will see tailored content that corresponds not only to their specialty but also to their position in the certification process (progressing through qualifying exams, certifying exams, and Continuing Certification including Online Longitudinal Assessment).
The BOT and BOG were also pleased with the expedient development of the Continuing Certification exams for those re-entering Continuing Certification or for the small fraction of diplomates who fail to meet the passing standard in OLA at the time of their 5-year review. The exam option is available beginning this month and two opportunities per year will be available starting in 2024.
One of the underlying themes for the trustees was the ongoing commitment to optimizing the candidate experience. There were extensive discussions regarding oral examiner performance reviews to make sure fairness is maintained at the highest possible level for the three ABR disciplines currently using oral exams in their initial certification process: interventional radiology, medical physics, and radiation oncology. Along these lines, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee presented a proposal for enhanced training to be included in oral examiner orientation in 2024. This training would remind examiners of their responsibility to contribute to a respectful and professional exam environment for the candidates that maintains rigor in the assessment process while mitigating the stress inherent in a high-stakes exam. The trustees also reviewed detailed exam survey data (candidates are invited to provide feedback after each administration) and discussed areas for improvement in exam content with attention to both the thoroughness of the process and relevance to professional practice for all disciplines.
The governors discussed detailed internal reports on information technology (including cybersecurity and strategic resource allocation) and psychometrics. The latter included a focus on optimizing procedures to ensure that the ABR continues to pursue the highest standards in exam reliability. Mindful of the imperative to control costs and the efforts of the staff to improve efficiencies through automated procedures, the governors approved next year’s budget without the need for an increase in candidate or diplomate fees in 2024 despite significant inflationary pressure.