From the Editor

From the Editor

ABR Succeeds in Transforming Exams During COVID

by J. Anthony Seibert, PhD, ABR Governor


Welcome to this edition of The Beam, where we celebrate the beginning of spring and a sense of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. It has been a year of transformation for the ABR, pivoting in short order from in-person to remote exams for all specialties and exams, including qualifying and certifying computer-based and oral exams, all since the middle of June 2020. The monumental effort undertaken by the ABR staff under difficult conditions of stay-at-home directives and the urgency of putting in place the infrastructure, software, and logistics to deliver safe, secure, and reliable remote exams for candidates beginning in January 2021 has been a great achievement. The Board of Governors (BOG) and Board of Trustees (BOT) are extremely grateful for the leadership of ABR Executive Director Brent Wagner and to the associate executive directors, senior staff directors, and all ABR employees for their diligence, teamwork, and ability to cope with significant stress over the last nine months – their accomplishments and dedication are truly amazing.

The BOG and BOT convened remotely during the first week of March for the spring ABR retreat to conduct business and carry on the mission of the ABR: “to certify that our diplomates demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skill, and understanding of their disciplines to the benefit of patients.” In this issue, a report from the BOG discusses three initiatives to support the mission on which they focused during those meetings: a communications survey, a look at possible fee reductions, and an effort to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities.

Vince Mathews, ABR president and a participant in several American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) committees, describes efforts regarding the ABR Maintenance of Certification program and its evolution into the more meaningful Continuing Certification program as recommended by the ABMS Vision Initiative.

Brent Wagner discusses lessons learned by the candidates and staff from the first remote Core Exam as well as changes in the Core Exam scoring model for physics as decided by the BOG. Insights from participant responses to the Core Exam survey have been overall very positive, as explained in the Focus on DR section by Reed Dunnick, associate executive director for diagnostic radiology, and Dr. Wagner. This is a positive step in the continued development and delivery of remote exams for the foreseeable future. On the receiving side of the remote Core Exam, two ABR candidates answer questions about their experiences in the New Perspectives column.

In From the BOT, trustees Anne Covey, Brian Davis, and Matt Podgorsak describe the new remote oral exam software, changes to the candidate experience with the new platform, and the success of the three pilot certifying oral exams.

For diplomates in Continuing Certification, our Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) Update describes features that can assist participants in improving their experience and learning opportunities.

In the Staff Spotlight, Rodney Campbell, ABR communications manager, discusses the important role of the associate executive directors (AEDs) in connecting ABR volunteers (BOG, BOT, and committee members) with staff and stakeholders (candidates, diplomates, and representative organizations). The AEDs’ long-term volunteer experiences with the ABR help them bring specific talents to assist the executive director in carrying out directives to fulfill the ABR’s mission.

In announcements, ABR Trustee Sanjeev Bhalla is congratulated for two distinguished accomplishments: receiving the 2021 American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) Distinguished Educator Award and becoming a member of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Board of Directors. Truly outstanding! Also, please note two important news items: the upcoming publication of the ABR 2020 Annual Report and the elimination of “conditioning” for physics on the DR and IR/DR Core Exam.

Thank you for taking the time to read this edition of The Beam. Current and previous issues are available on the ABR website, as is up-to-date and breaking news of ABR activities, so be sure to frequently visit Links to blogs, newsletters, annual reports, and press releases can be found at the bottom of the home page. And as always, please contact me via email at or the editorial staff at with feedback, comments, or suggestions regarding past, current, or future editions of The Beam.

Happy Spring!


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