ABR Continuing Certification Programs Designed to Meet ABMS Standards
by Vincent P. Mathews, MD, ABR President
In response to a February 2019 report generated by an independent commission (Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future), the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has developed a set of standards for Member Boards to follow when developing refinements and enhancements to their continuing certification programs. The ABMS is “seeking public commentary on the Draft Standards for Continuing Certification from all stakeholders who possess, use or rely upon the board certification credential as an indicator of a diplomate’s professionalism and proficiency of specialty knowledge and skills.”
The standards emphasize the responsibility of the Member Boards, including the ABR, to serve the public interests while simultaneously providing relevance and value for the professionals involved in certification programs. Further, the boards understand their obligation to avoid duplicative efforts for medical practitioners who already face considerable administrative burdens in their practice.
Nearly all current ABR programmatic offerings in continuing certification, which address professionalism, lifelong learning, knowledge assessment, and improvement in medical practice, fit within the draft standards. Most of these were implemented or in development prior to the formation of the commission and were affirmed in the 2019 report.
Our Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) program, which replaced the in-person “every 10-year exam,” has been well received since its introduction in 2019. We collect ongoing feedback and strive to increase the relevance of the content for busy practitioners. The program is built around established principles of adult learning and has an intrinsic formative function and structure, as outlined in the current ABMS draft standards. It also serves as an assessment tool; this combination directly addresses the commitment to the public interest in professional development in the context of rapidly evolving practice and technology in the radiological professions.
There are, however, opportunities for continued improvement. Specifically, these relate to enhanced communication and clarity around the requirements of the program. We will be relying on input from external stakeholder groups, including our advisory committees, to improve these communications on our website and via other channels. Further, we are actively looking at ways to expand our customer service to provide more rapid and personalized responses for candidates and diplomates engaged in the process. Finally, ABR will partner with ABMS and other Member Boards to facilitate and encourage independent research about the value of continuing certification.