From the President

From the President

ABR Board of Governors Prioritizes Communication and Prudent Financial Management

By Robert M. Barr, MD, ABR President, and Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, ABR Executive Director


Robert Barr, MD, and Brent Wagner, MD

At its annual meeting last month, the Board of Governors (BOG) discussed ABR priorities with senior staff. The exercise was intended to balance the short- and medium-term mission-oriented goals of the organization with the limited resources associated with inflation, workforce challenges, and declining financial reserves. The ABR continues to focus its efforts on maintaining the highest psychometric standards in our assessments and optimizing the balance between security and candidate experience. In addition, two broad categories of priorities are highlighted here.

First, the Board affirmed its continued support of efforts to improve communication with our stakeholders, especially candidates, diplomates, and program directors. The extensive range of messaging from exam registration through exam completion and extending into Continuing Certification (MOC) is often confusing to candidates and diplomates. The ABR is looking at options to streamline and customize these communications to make them less confusing and more specific to individual candidates based on their position in the board certification pathway. In addition to planned website enhancements including a more targeted personal page (, our communication strategy stresses three major elements: attention to listening (to our candidates and diplomates); the use of multiple channels for a variety of messaging; and, perhaps most important, assuming the responsibility for making sure that our communications are effective (and, when they aren’t, addressing those shortcomings).

Second, the Board expects the ABR staff to continue to maintain costs at the lowest reasonable level to accomplish the mission. This is a requisite element of the Board’s fiduciary responsibility and includes not only short-term activities like careful budgeting and accounting but also prudent maintenance of reserve funds. The ABR is increasing its focus on automating dozens of manual processes to take advantage of opportunities for scalability of standard functions; this will decrease the risk of error while avoiding the costs of additional staff positions. While the ABR has been able to avoid a fee increase each year since 2015, mitigating future fee increases will depend in part on our ability to identify additional efficiencies.

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