From the Editor

From the Editor

ABR Well Positioned to Handle Further COVID Disruptions

By J. Anthony Seibert, PhD, ABR Governor


A new year is upon us – and sigh – so is the appearance and rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron COVID variant. Fortunately, the ABR is positioned to continue operations without impacting Initial Certification written and oral exam schedules because of the remote exam capabilities we implemented in early 2021 in response to the first appearance of the virus and the disruption it caused in 2020. We can thank the development of Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) several years ago for providing the infrastructure needed to build the initial remote exam platform. Many improvements in the design and delivery of remote exams will be introduced by the ABR staff over the coming year based on feedback from candidates and examiners. Along the way, updates and news will be reported in The Beam.

In this edition, President Vince Mathews discusses the importance of communication with ABR stakeholders and announces two initiatives directed at improvements: a communications survey and open “town hall” sessions that will allow candidates and diplomates a direct conduit to the ABR governors, trustees, volunteers, and staff. In a companion article, Executive Director Brent Wagner highlights a recent report by an outside consultant regarding external stakeholder perceptions of the ABR, which provided directives for improving board functions and responsiveness in support of candidates and diplomates.

In From the Board of Governors, Mimi Newell describes her involvement in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Continuing Certification Committee, how examples of best practices among Member Boards can be used to improve ABR processes, and the value of volunteering for the ABMS and the ABR.

In the discipline-specific columns, Reed Dunnick, ABR Associate Executive Director for Diagnostic Radiology, describes the soon-to-be implemented “Exam Readiness Check” that will assist DR candidates in evaluating their computer system technical capabilities and “Sample Questions” that will allow more practice with the software and imaging tools. Paul Wallner, ABR Associate Executive Director for Radiation Oncology, and David Laszakovits, ABR Director for Communications, respond to RO candidates’ and diplomates’ questions regarding Continuing Certification, OLA, volunteering for the ABR, and the number of RO exam administrations in the coming year. Matt Podgorsak, senior ABR Trustee for Medical Physics, and colleagues review 2021 post-exam survey responses, which will inform the continuing evolution and improvement of exams.

Speaking of medical physics and medical physicists, the ABR Diplomate Spotlight features Christopher L. Williams, PhD, one of the new group of astronauts in training selected by NASA. Hear directly from Dr. Williams about his journey from astrophysics to medical physics to a life-long dream of being an astronaut in a video interview by the Beam staff … and yes, he does plan on continuing participation in OLA from space!

In the New Perspectives column, Myles Mowry, DO, a resident in Interventional Radiology, gives his viewpoint on the career opportunities that radiology provides for a span of personality traits, from introverts to extroverts, and everything in between.

In the News section, with the resumption of annual meetings in the fall of 2021 by ASTRO and the RSNA, a few attendees offer their thoughts on the events and their optimism for a return to traditional get-togethers. Also, the ABR has earned Platinum status (the highest level) for the fifth straight year from Candid Guidestar – a measure of a nonprofit organization’s transparency in communicating information about finances, operations, and programs.

Finally, congratulations are in order for ABR Trustee M. Victoria (Vicki) Marx who has been awarded the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) Gold Medal for 2022! Read about the award and the outstanding career and achievements of Dr. Marx in Announcements.

We hope you enjoy this edition of The Beam. For comments regarding content or suggestions for future articles, please contact me at or the Beam staff at Happy New Year, thanks for reading, and stay safe!


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