ABR Will Cease Issuing Authorized User-Eligibility Designation After 2023
by Vincent P. Mathews, MD, ABR President
After extensive internal deliberation, the ABR announced in March that we would no longer be issuing authorized user (AU) eligibility (AU-E)1 on our certificates after 2023. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has defined requirements for “training and experience” (T&E) to allow practitioners to be added to a facility license for supervision of safe medical applications of radiation and radioisotopes. For the past 15 years, the ABR has accepted documentation from the programs supporting the requisite T&E in support of “eligibility” to become authorized users. However, there is no required link between board certification and AU status: one may be board certified without being an AU, and one may be an AU without being board certified.
There are three reasons the ABR has decided to cease issuing AU eligibility. First, as mentioned above, there is no specific correlation between “board certified” and “authorized user” status. Second, the resources supporting this activity are more appropriately directed to improving our exams with respect to maintaining validity (for the public) and improving candidate experience. Third, there is a pathway directly to the NRC for verifying T&E in support of adding an individual to an institutional license.2
As part of the pathway using board certification toward AU-E designation for diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology, our exams have included a subset of content that was scored separately. The Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE) is part of the aggregate score for the Qualifying (Core) and Certifying exams and will be administered through 2023; a passing score on this portion of the overall exam is one of the requirements for AU-E designation by the ABR.
The exam content that makes up the RISE is an integral part of the domain of diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology. There are no plans to discontinue administering this important content on the Qualifying (Core) and Certifying exams. However, starting in 2024, the RISE content will not be scored separately, and the section will be called Radioisotope Safety Content (RISC). The questions will continue to count toward the overall exam score, but a separate passing score on this portion of the content will no longer be required after 2023.
Details regarding the AU-E designation change may be found here. We have intentionally delayed the policy change until the end of 2023 to allow programs and candidates to adjust, as needed, to the new model. However, because of the intentional overlap in the requirements, training programs that have maintained records documenting the required T&E in support of the ABR’s AU-E pathway should not have to modify their current processes to comply with the NRC pathway.
1 Although this discussion is focused on the “authorized user” designation for radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology, and interventional radiology, medical physicists may also be recognized by the NRC as a Radiation Safety Officer or authorized medical physicist. § 35.2 Definitions. | NRC.gov
2 For example, see NRC Form 313A (AUD), Authorized User Training, Experience, and Preceptor Attestation (for uses defined under 35.100, 35.200, and 35.500) [10 CFR 35.57, 35.190, 35.290, and 35.590]. (01-2020)