From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director

Conference Provides Concrete Example of Certification’s Value

By Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, ABR Executive Director


Brent Wagner, MD

I had the opportunity to attend the annual ABMS Conference in Chicago last September. The conference brings together staff and volunteers from the 24 Member Boards from various medical specialties and offers hundreds of attendees a variety of opportunities to share challenges, ideas, and best practices. The three-day session featured an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and competency-based medical education (CBME), a recognized goal of the ACGME (and related to the ABMS mission).

By chance, I met someone who – based on his attendee badge – was part of a different conference in a separate wing of the hotel. Because we were in an elevator, I was able to hear a genuine “elevator pitch” in response to my question “What is PCI”? The short answer was “Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute”; his expanded response to my quizzical expression was what they do: in his words, they offer “programs to enhance the quality of precast concrete.” Before we reached the lobby, I had time for one more question: “Do you require adherence to a set of standards?” As the doors opened, he answered in the affirmative, and I was immediately struck by the similarity of the activities of two seemingly disparate organizations. In both focused and broad contexts, the ABR and PCI strive to do the same thing: allow the consumer (in the case of ABMS and the ABR, the patient) and the public to rely on a set of standards designed to support a higher level of quality, safety, and reliability.

Later, I found PCI’s mission statement online: “As a collaborative group of industry stakeholders dedicated to promoting the broader use of precast concrete systems, we engage our constituents through standards development, certification, research, marketing, and education, and we collaborate with each other to enhance our businesses.”

It’s not lost on me that there is an emphasis on “business.” However, asking multiple levels of “why” allows us to see the progression from “better components” to “better structures” to “safer structures” to reassurance for the public: “. . . certification of plants, personnel, and product erection provides greater assurance to owners, architects, engineers, and contractors that precast concrete components will be manufactured and installed according to stringent industry standards.”

I was in the same frame of mind that I suspect many of our patients find themselves in – a presumption that professionals in impactful endeavors (medicine and concrete) aspire to deliver the highest quality. Many patients don’t know about board certification – including Continuing Certification – but if they did, they would assume their doctors would and should pursue it.

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