Mike Ulissey, MD, earned certification in diagnostic radiology from the ABR in 1998. As a lifetime certificate holder, he doesn’t have to participate in Continuing Certification.
He has many reasons why he does anyway.
“I don’t think that you can say, ‘I’m 20 years into practice, and I’m just as good today as I was fresh out of training, and I don’t have to prove it to anybody,’ ‘’ Dr. Ulissey said. “I think that you do need some kind of semi-objective way to not only measure your progress, but also give you a little more impetus to stay on top of your game. Otherwise, I think there’s a tendency to slowly gravitate to a lower common denominator. It’s an insidious process.”
Dr. Ulissey is a breast radiologist at the Centers for Diagnostic Imaging near Seattle. He also has a research and teaching appointment as an adjunct professor of Radiology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, and was formerly the director of breast imaging at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
Even with all those responsibilities, Dr. Ulissey considers himself semi-retired. Still, he takes time to fulfill Continuing Certification obligations.
“It is not at all an onerous process,” he said. “It does take up some time, which is appropriate, because you have to keep up with CME anyway if you’re going to keep up your state license. But if you work on a QA project, it’s going to make you better, it’s going to make your center better, and patients are the ones who are going to benefit because they’re going to get a better quality of care. Most of the time, in that process, I’ve realized that we are doing things pretty well.”
The part of Continuing Certification that he has enjoyed most is Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA), which was introduced in January 2019. Dr. Ulissey knows some of his peers are anxious about taking an exam to remain certified, so they skip taking part in Continuing Certification. He sees OLA as an effective alternative for satisfying Part 3.
“I think that the OLA questions are fair,” he said. “There are no bells, no whistles, no trick questions. They are good questions. Some of them helped me learn things.”
Dr. Ulissey also sees his participation as an important message for his peers He sees it as an obligation to the field.
“I think you have to consider the optics to community,” he said. “You have to be able to stand on a stump in the middle of the town square and say, ‘This is what I’m doing and this is why I’m doing it.’ To say instead, “I don’t need to be board recertified every 10 years,’ or ‘I don’t need to prove that I’m still a good doctor 10, 15, 20, 25 years out,’ I don’t think that would be any kind of good optics.”