The ABR by the Numbers
By Kate Maturen, MD, MS, ABR Trustee
When I became an ABR trustee last year, I was surprised to discover how little I understood the organization’s overall scope and scale. Despite 12 years as an oral board examiner, item writer, committee chair, and genitourinary category chair, I was only aware of ABR activities in my own domain. This served me adequately until I arrived at my first board meeting and realized the mission of the ABR extends well beyond diagnostic radiology (DR). DR is the largest discipline, but there are robust parallel processes governing interventional radiology (IR), radiation oncology (RO), and medical physics (MP), which impact thousands of diplomates.
Starting any position or leadership activity, it’s useful to examine and understand the org chart. If you can get a sense of an organization’s structure and resource flow, you will learn a lot about its values and priorities. Similarly, readers of The Beam might want to check out the updated Board of Trustees page on the ABR’s website to see who is working on your behalf. Why? If you are a current or aspiring holder of an ABR certificate, the ABR is your organization. We carefully define and refine benchmarks for our profession to ensure public trust and confidence in your work, fundamentally protecting your livelihood. A large amount of this activity is performed by volunteers, who donate their time and expertise in exchange for travel support and an admittedly excellent collection of snacks. As an ABMS Member Board, the ABR governs our profession from within the community. We define the standards and values, rather than having those defined externally.
Yet mistrust and even resentment toward the ABR smolder in some corners of the radiology world, voiced on social media and in personal conversations. As a long time-volunteer, I am aware of the commitment and generosity that are the foundation of this work. But why should people who are experiencing the ABR as a huge bureaucracy or faceless regulatory body feel the same way? I think the ABR’s current leaders and communications team are doing excellent work humanizing it and increasing transparency, but we still have work to do. To further this process of community education and mutual accountability, check out “The ABR Index” (inspired by Harper’s Magazine). The ABR is your organization and it’s worth taking time to understand the mission and, ideally, to contribute. Knowledge is power.
The ABR Index
Year the ABR was established: 1934
Year the ABR joined the ABMS: 1935
Total number of ABMS Member Boards: 24
Physician and physicist executive staff employed by the ABR: 5
PhD psychometricians employed by the ABR: 3
Exam developers, IT specialists, editors, and other staff employed by the ABR: 89
Physician and physicist volunteers for the ABR: 1,200+
New DR ABR diplomates annually: 1,200
New IR ABR diplomates annually: 325
New RO ABR diplomates annually: 200
New MP ABR diplomates annually: 250
ABR specialties currently delivering remote oral certifying exams: 3 (IR/MP/RO)
Total number of DR/IR/MP/RO diplomates participating in OLA: 34,500
OLA questions answered to date: 8.5 million
Hits on theabr.org in 2022: 12,755,198