Board Certification Has Value for Patients and Practitioners
By Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, ABR Executive Director
I was recently asked to describe the vision for the ABR (and for me) over the next five years. Admittedly, the Board and I have been somewhat reactive over the past three years, responding in urgent and specific ways to the unpredictable impacts of the pandemic on the delivery of our certification exams. But we have also been proactive: the following two examples illustrate ongoing efforts to improve our board certification programs.
ABR Continuing Certification (formerly Maintenance of Certification, MOC) is based on standards developed between 2018 and 2021 by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) for implementation in 2024. ABR diplomates will see little to no change in the program at that time because we have implemented the enhancements incrementally over the past several years. We will continue to offer Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA); approximately 94% of diplomates are meeting the passing standard for the required cognitive assessment based on their OLA performance. The life-long learning requirement was recently modified and no longer requires self-assessment CME (SA-CME) for diplomates participating in OLA. In addition, to avoid diplomates having to repeat activities many are already doing to improve health and healthcare, we will continue to accept structured quality program metrics that are generated, for example, through peer review and peer learning programs that support ongoing hospital medical staff credentialling processes. In aggregate, Continuing Certification is intended to allow diplomates to express a set of commitments, including “keeping up to date with advances in medical knowledge” and “working to improve themselves, their colleagues, and the systems in which they work.”1
The decision to implement an oral certifying exam for diagnostic radiology in 2028 resulted from extensive discussions with external stakeholders and thoughtful consideration by the ABR volunteer board members.2,3 Observations of residency faculty and experiences of radiologists in practice prompted design of an exam that more closely replicates clinical practice compared with the current multiple-choice model. The emphasis will be on synthesis of findings, communication, and considerations of imaging or clinical management; such higher order thinking is critical to diagnostic radiology and will be supplemented with discussions of commonly encountered procedures (e.g., paracentesis, lumbar puncture, and biopsy) that are often performed by diagnostic radiologists.
Beyond the tangible programmatic considerations described above, senior leadership at the ABR considers the broad view of the value we offer to our stakeholders. Over the next five years and beyond, the ABR will continue to listen to your feedback and use it to guide program enhancements. Above all, certification represents activities that are part of the social contract you, as radiologic professionals, have accepted in your service to patients. We are an embodiment of a small part of that contract: an opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to continual development through rigorous assessment, life-long learning, professionalism, and systematic improvement in healthcare. As credible recognition of the years of training and special skills of ABR-certified professionals, board certification represents value to not only the patient but also the practitioners who have chosen to distinguish themselves by their talent and efforts.
- American Board of Medical Specialties. Standards for Continuing Certification. https://www.abms.org/board-certification/board-certification-standards/standards-for-continuing-certification/
- Larson DB, Flemming DJ, Barr RM, Canon CL, Morgan DE. Redesign of the American Board of Radiology Diagnostic Radiology Certifying Examination. AJR. June 14, 2023. https://doi.org/10.2214/AJR.23.29585
- American Board of Radiology. New Diagnostic Radiology Oral Exam. June 28, 2023. https://www.theabr.org/news/new-diagnostic-radiology-oral-exam