From the Editor

From the Editor

As Busy Year Ends, We Look Forward to Continued Exam and OLA Improvements

By J. Anthony Seibert, PhD, ABR Governor


The end of the year enables us to look back at the accomplishments of 2021 and forward to 2022 with renewed optimism of a “normal” ABR exam schedule and continued improvements in the exam process. Implementation of remote exam infrastructure was solidly underway last January, when we had the daunting mission of delivering twice the number of computer-based and oral exams for candidates who had missed the opportunity in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic and for those in 2021 who had a slightly delayed time frame. A very heavy lift indeed, particularly considering the work-at-home mandates of ABR staff, the unknown aspects of the remote exam platform, and the compressed time frame requirements.

Under the leadership of ABR Executive Director Brent Wagner, progress was made month by month, with the successful completion of the 2020 computer-based and oral exams by May 2021, and for the 2021 exams by the end of October. Throughout this effort, improvements for the exam delivery process were implemented using feedback from candidates, trustees, and ABR staff. While there were some disruptions to a small fraction of candidates because of connectivity and software issues, exam outcomes for all disciplines were validated with psychometric analysis and found to be reliable and consistent, comparable to exams from previous years. Many thanks to the ABR staff for their dedication and perseverance in achieving these amazing accomplishments.

In this edition of The Beam, Brent Wagner discusses directives from the ABR virtual fall board meetings that include refining the remote exam platform, working with established stakeholder advisory committees for all disciplines, and establishing a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee. President Vince Mathews explains the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) future standards for “Continuing Certification” and how the ABR has already implemented most of the updated requirements, including its Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) program. From the Board of Governors, John Kaufman, ABR secretary-treasurer, and David Laszakovits, Director of Communications, highlight the financial transparency of the ABR and its participation in the GuideStar program.

In the discipline sections, Reed Dunnick, Associate Executive Director for Diagnostic Radiology (DR), and Jim Spies, Associate Executive Director of Interventional Radiology (IR), describe OLA enhancements and improvements in practice profile flexibility for DR and IR diplomates to allow personalized refinements in the critical practice areas from which OLA questions will be presented, beginning in 2022. Don Flemming, Chair, ABR Board of Trustees, and Trustee Desiree Morgan announce the availability of new Qualifying (Core) Exam study resources on the ABR website to help improve understanding of the exam’s scope. Medical Physics Trustee Kalpana Kanal reflects on two years of OLA diplomate participation, and the process of data collection, review, and analysis for improvement of the medical physics OLA program in preparation for the coming year. Radiation Oncology Trustee Brian Davis, Associate Executive Director for Radiation Oncology Paul Wallner, and Director of Exam Services Anthony Gerdeman describe coming improvements in exam preparation resources that will allow examinees to attain a level of comfort with relevant question types and the navigation of exam controls in a realistic pre-test environment.

In the New Perspectives column, Rodney Campbell, ABR Communications Manager, converses with Shauna Campbell, DO, a member of the Radiation Oncology Initial Certification Advisory Committee, who provides her perspective as a former resident about the opportunities that participation in the advisory committee provides, including that collaboration and being a voice for residents is so important in the ongoing improvement and evolution of the initial certification process. In an associated article, Rodney interviews several candidates who provide tips and advice on how to prepare for initial certifying exams, with links to available ABR “how-to” video resources to help candidates prepare for a positive exam-day experience.

In the ABR Staff Spotlight, we review the global ABR communications efforts, with a focus on The Beam and the individuals responsible for coordinating, collecting, editing, and assembling articles for the newsletter.

In Continuing Certification news, as the end of the year approaches, OLA participation  is explained, as well as important reminders for annual requirements. For those taking a break, the restart of the OLA questions begins in January 2022.

Thank you for taking the time to read this edition of The Beam. We appreciate your feedback, comments, and suggestions – please contact me at or the communications staff at

Here’s to a great holiday season and happy new year!  Best to you all …  Tony

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