Certificate Conversion FAQs
Last verified on July 22, 2019
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The IR/DR Certificate
- Why did the ABR create a single IR/DR certificate? How was the decision made, and what process did you follow?
- Did you have an open comment period to obtain feedback about this change? If so, when was it held? If not, why?
- Does conversion to the IR/DR certificate mean I am not considered a diagnostic radiologist with a subspecialty in IR?
- If I chose to convert my DR and VIR certificate to an IR/DR certificate, will my old DR certificate be shown as “inactive” on the ABR and ABMS websites?
- If IR is truly its own specialty, why am I not being offered a new and separate IR board certification?
- I have been board-certified for 20 years. If someone looks up my certifications, will the record reflect my years of board certification? Will the date of certification be the date of conversion to the IR/DR certificate?
Lifetime DR Certificates
- How does conversion to the IR/DR certificate affect my lifetime DR certificate?
- If I converted to an IR/DR certificate, did I give up my ability to regain my lifetime DR certificate in the future if something changes?
- Can the ABR issue an IR/DR certificate and leave my DR certificate active as well?
- If I converted to the new IR/DR certificate, am I still able to bill for DR activities?
- If the new certificate “does not negate the lifetime DR certificate,” why will it no longer acknowledged on the ABR’s website?
- If I chose the IR/DR option but drop the IR portion of my practice at a later date for any reason, can I reactivate my DR certification? How will this work?
- Will reactivation of my lifetime DR certificate happen regardless of the reason I dropped my IR practice?
- What happens if ABR eventually decides that lifelong DR certificates cannot be reactivated? What recourse will we have if this happens?
VIR Subspecialty (CAQ)
- If I opted outed of the IR/DR certificate in 2017, can I opt in to the combined certificate at a later date?
- If I chose not to convert to the new IR/DR certificate, will I still be able to bill for IR activities?
- If someone looks up my certifications, will they see my VIR CAQ as lapsed?
- What happens to my time-limited VIR certificate (with an end date) if I chose not to convert to an IR/DR certificate?
- I am MORE than 10 years out from my fellowship and never obtained my VIR CAQ. Now it appears there is no way to convert to an IR/DR certificate without it. How can I become a board-certified IR? Can I take the boards without redoing my fellowship?
- I am FEWER than 10 years out from my fellowship and never obtained my VIR CAQ. Now it appears there is no way to convert to an IR/DR certificate without it. How can I become a board-certified IR?
MOC Process and Costs
- If I converted to an IR/DR certificate, do I have to participate in MOC?
- If I changed to the new IR/DR certificate, how will my MOC process change? Do I have to take a test?
- What is the definition of continuous certification? What does it entail?
- How much does the new IR/DR certificate cost to maintain? What is the cost increase of maintaining the new certificate vs. the old DR certificate and VIR CAQ?
- I recently took and passed an MOC exam for DR and/or VIR. Does that exam earn me another 10 years of certification without MOC participation?
- AU Designations
- For Those in Training
The IR/DR Certificate
Why did the ABR create a single IR/DR certificate? How was the decision made, and what process did you follow?The IR specialty and the IR/DR certificate are the results of almost 20 years of work by the SIR and ABR on IR and IR education. The SIR was the primary driving force behind ACGME approval of VIR fellowships in 1991. Subsequently, the SIR and ABR achieved ABMS approval of VIR as a subspecialty of radiology in 1994. Beginning in 2006, as first an SIR initiative and then a combined SIR/ABR effort, work began on an IR primary (specialty) certificate. The fundamental motivation has always been the recognition that non-procedural care was a unique aspect of IR that, in combination with imaging and procedural competence, required dedicated training and warranted recognition as a primary specialty. This effort resulted in a single certificate that includes competency in both interventional radiology and diagnostic radiology (IR/DR) for two major reasons:
- First, SIR members and all diagnostic radiology stakeholders overwhelming favored a combined specialty certificate that would support practice in both interventional radiology and diagnostic radiology. This was ascertained through SIR member polls; discussions and presentations at SIR meetings; and formal discussions (leading to modifications of the proposal and endorsements) with key radiology organizations such as the American College of Radiology, the Radiological Society of North America, the American Roentgen Ray Society, the Association of Program Directors in Diagnostic Radiology, the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiology Departments, and nine other radiology specialty organizations.
- Second, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the governing body of the 24 specialty boards, does not allow any of its Member Boards to issue two certificates covering the same specialty. Therefore, the ABR cannot issue both a VIR subspecialty certificate and an IR/DR specialty certificate, nor can we issue both a DR certificate and an IR/DR certificate to the same individual.
Did you have an open comment period to obtain feedback about this change? If so, when was it held? If not, why?There has been significant support for the development of a defined IR specialty and training. Implementing the specialty of interventional radiology, the IR training path, and the IR/DR certificate was a multiyear process that began in 2006. It was widely discussed and debated throughout the development period, during which feedback from all IR and DR stakeholders, including those from the SIR, ACR, and ABR, was obtained and incorporated into the final proposal. Through this FAQ, the ABR is attempting to address the concerns of current and future certificate holders.
Does conversion to the IR/DR certificate mean I am not considered a diagnostic radiologist with a subspecialty in IR?The IR/DR certificate indicates competency in both specialties. The IR portion of the certificate elevates the current subspecialty certificate to a primary specialty level, and the DR portion of the certificate is equivalent to a DR-only certificate. This provides diplomates with flexibility in the future to revert an IR/DR certificate back to a DR certificate.
If I chose to convert my DR and VIR certificate to an IR/DR certificate, will my old DR certificate be shown as “inactive” on the ABR and ABMS websites?No. The DR certificate will no longer be visible on the ABR website. ABMS CertiFACTS will show a diplomate’s entire certification history, so credentialers will see that both the DR and VIR certificates were “converted” on October 15, 2017.
If IR is truly its own specialty, why am I not being offered a new and separate IR board certification?The initial thought was to have an IR certificate that would be completely separate from diagnostic radiology. However, after significant discussions, focus groups, surveys, etc., it became clear that this would be detrimental to practicing interventional radiologists because it would not allow them to practice diagnostic radiology if they were injured, changed jobs and needed to practice diagnostic radiology, or wanted to practice only diagnostic radiology. Thus, the IR/DR certificate was created. This certificate does several things, including the following:
- It recognizes that interventional radiologists have trained in the same manner as diagnostic radiologists. Both are required to take three years of core radiology residency training. Following their core training, those in a DR residency may take up to 12 months of training in a single subspecialty (for a total of 15 months during the four years of residency), while those in an IR/DR residency are required to take two years of interventional radiology training. Therefore, there is no question that diplomates with the IR/DR certificate are also qualified to practice diagnostic radiology. This means that IR/DR diplomates cannot be disadvantaged in a radiology practice or told that they can’t practice diagnostic radiology.
- The IR/DR certificate allows diplomates to drop the IR portion of the certificate if they decide they are not going to practice interventional radiology. They would simply notify the ABR that they are dropping the IR part of their certificate, and assuming they are continuing to practice radiology, they would change their MOC activities to focus on their new practice pattern. (See discussion about lifetime certificates below.)