News from the ABR

The Beam February 2022

February 2022 | Volume 15, Issue 1

From the Editor


ABR Well Positioned to Handle Further COVID Disruptions

By J. Anthony Seibert, PhD, ABR Governor


A new year is upon us – and sigh – so is the appearance and rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron COVID variant. Fortunately, the ABR is positioned to continue operations without impacting Initial Certification written and oral exam schedules because of the remote exam capabilities we implemented in early 2021 in response to the first appearance of the virus and the disruption it caused in 2020. We can thank the development of Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) several years ago for providing the infrastructure needed to build the initial remote exam platform. Many improvements in the design and delivery of remote exams will be introduced by the ABR staff over the coming year based on feedback from candidates and examiners. Along the way, updates and news will be reported in The Beam.

In this edition, President Vince Mathews discusses the importance of communication with ABR stakeholders and announces two initiatives directed at improvements: a communications survey and open “town hall” sessions that will allow candidates and diplomates a direct conduit to the ABR governors, trustees, volunteers, and staff. In a companion article, Executive Director Brent Wagner highlights a recent report by an outside consultant regarding external stakeholder perceptions of the ABR, which provided directives for improving board functions and responsiveness in support of candidates and diplomates.

In From the Board of Governors, Mimi Newell describes her involvement in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Continuing Certification Committee, how examples of best practices among Member Boards can be used to improve ABR processes, and the value of volunteering for the ABMS and the ABR.

Click HERE to read more.



Improving Communication Through Town Halls and Surveys

Vince Mathews, MD, ABR PresidentBy Vincent P. Mathews, MD, ABR President


The great enemy of communication … is the illusion of it. We have talked enough; but we have not listened. And by not listening, we have failed to concede … the great gaps between ourselves and those with whom we seek understanding.” 1   

Those comments, in the context of corporate America from more than 50 years ago, remain true in a variety of medical and social organizations. The ABR Board of Governors seeks to enhance that understanding by improving the effectiveness of stakeholder communications at all levels. In very broad terms, there are many times when candidates and diplomates need to hear from us, and many times when we must hear from them. 

The rapid evolution of programmatic improvements, including our Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) and new Initial Certification remote exam platforms, makes it critical to be able to keep radiologic professionals adequately informed at every stage in the board certification process. However, we recognize that the upward trajectory of both the quantity and the pace of communication is often overwhelming to busy practitioners. The challenge is to find a reasonable balance, not only for the frequency of messaging but also the channels of communication. Finding this balance is especially difficult because of the wide range of individual preferences among more than 30,000 candidates and diplomates who need to be informed to be successful in achieving and maintaining board certification. 

Click HERE to read more.



Independent Report Highlights Areas for Growth

ABR Executive Director Brent Wagner, MD, MBABy Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, ABR Executive Director


Institutions often suffer from biases and flawed perceptions based on familiarity with the internal workings of the organization and an overly inward focus. For the ABR, the result may be erroneous assumptions about the intended value we provide to certification candidates and diplomates, how our programs relate to fulfilling our mission, and what we might do to improve. Although the ABR’s staff, governing board, and volunteers possess valuable insight and experience of the inner workings and processes of board operations, including exam production and administration, cognitive biases may result from that perspective. Careful discipline, introspection, and thoughtful consideration of alternative views are required to inform sound decision-making. 

The ABR recently asked an outside consultant to conduct a series of interviews with a large group of radiology thought leaders and others familiar with board certification programs. Beyond the introduction of objectivity, such an outside view was important to ensure anonymity while encouraging candid discussion and creative ideas that would challenge the status quo. We appreciate the participants’ willingness to help and their valuable feedback. An interim report was delivered to the Board of Governors late last year.

Click HERE to read more.




ABR Governor Ready to Contribute on ABMS Continuing Certification Committee


Mary S. (Mimi) Newell, MD, is a longtime ABR volunteer who last year moved from our Board of Trustees (BOT) to Board of Governors (BOG). Dr. Newell has a diverse background, including work in academic and private practice. She is currently a professor in the Division of Breast Imaging of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine.

We recently talked with her about her new responsibilities as chair of the Continuing Certification committee for the America Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

How did joining the ABMS Continuing Certification committee become part of your volunteer work?

(ABR President) Vince Mathews was my predecessor and he transitioned off, so I was selected to fill in. I have quite a bit of experience coming up through the ranks of the ABR, first as an item writer and then an oral examiner, and then committee chair, and, finally, as a chair intimately involved with Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) on multiple levels. I think it was kind of a natural fit. So far, I’m really enjoying it. It’s inspiring to see such widely diverse and accomplished people come together for the purpose of making Continuing Certification as good as it can be.

Click HERE to read more.



Improved Exam Prep Tool Will Allow Candidates Greater Access to Explore Remote Platform

N. Reed Dunnick, MDBy N. Reed Dunnick, MD, ABR Associate Executive Director for Diagnostic Radiology


In 2021, the ABR successfully delivered more than 5,000 remote computer-based exams, including three administrations of the Diagnostic Radiology Qualifying (Core) Exam and two each of the DR Certifying Exam, DR subspecialty exams, and the Radioisotope Safety Exam (RISE). As expected with any remotely delivered exam, a few candidates experienced connectivity and software issues. However, outcomes were validated through psychometric analysis, which found results to be reliable, consistent, and comparable to exams from previous years. After each administration, candidate feedback from surveys was reviewed by trustees and ABR staff and used to improve the exam delivery process and the candidate experience.

While candidates expressed appreciation for having the ability to take an exam in a location of their choosing, thus eliminating the need for travel and exposure to groups of people during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was trepidation about potential connectivity problems they might encounter. To help ease candidates’ stress and equip them to have as successful an exam day experience as possible, the ABR provided instructional materials, including webinars, Q&A sessions, and exam-specific guides with detailed hardware, software, and location requirements.

Click HERE to read more.



ABR Trustees Find Tremendous Value in Post-Exam Surveys

By Matthew B. Podgorsak, PhD, Kalpana M. Kanal, PhD, and Robert A. Pooley, PhD, ABR Trustees; and Geoffrey S. Ibbott, PhD, ABR Associate Executive Director for Medical Physics


The ABR’s mission is to certify that our diplomates demonstrate the requisite knowledge, skill, and understanding of their discipline to the benefit of patients. Future medical physicist diplomates must first undergo a rigorous evaluation of their clinical skills and knowledge by taking a series of three qualifying exams (Part 1 general, Part 1 clinical, and Part 2) followed by a final certifying exam (Part 3 oral).

The exams include questions written by medical physicist volunteers who are board certified and are maintaining their certificate in the Continuing Certification (MOC) program for their respective disciplines. Each question is reviewed for content and evaluated for clarity of presentation by committees of medical physicist volunteers and ABR editorial staff. Moreover, each ABR exam is assessed by the ABR psychometrics staff and additional medical physicist volunteers before it is delivered. Finally, each exam is assessed after delivery to ensure that participants who passed the exam have demonstrated appropriate knowledge such that the ABR’s mission is achieved.

Click HERE to read more.



ABR Responds to Radiation Oncology Questions

By Paul E. Wallner, DO, ABR Associate Executive Director for Radiation Oncology; and David Laszakovits, MBA, ABR Director of Communications


The ABR constantly strives to improve communication with candidates for Initial Certification and certified diplomates. Although staff and associate executive directors (AEDs) routinely respond to queries, for many years, the Board has hosted a booth at major national stakeholder meetings where inquiries can be addressed directly by knowledgeable staff members. At the October 2021 annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in Chicago, several questions were frequently encountered.

Some of the most frequently raised questions concerned participation in Continuing Certification (MOC). Several diplomates were uncertain how to verify their general Continuing Certification and Part 3 Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) status.

Participants can verify all elements of their Continuing Certification status by visiting myABR and clicking on the MOC/Attestation tab. Parts 1, 2 and 4 require only annual personal attestation. Current Part 3 OLA status is available on a dynamic basis.

Click HERE to read more.



Radiology Is a Great Fit for Any Personality Type

Myles Mowery, DO

By Myles Mowery, DO


“You are too personable for radiology! Why would you go into such an introverted field?” Anybody else get this? I’m sure plenty have. It’s such a common misconception in the world of medicine that radiologists sit in the dark all day, don’t have interpersonal skills and dread talking to anyone. The reality is that radiology is one of the most communication-dependent fields in medicine and perfect for any personality type.

Radiologists are communicating throughout their shifts, through dictation, over the phone, or in person in the reading room. As a radiologist, you are communicating with people from every specialty in medicine both in and out of the hospital. Being able to deliver information about imaging findings in an efficient and effective manner while also encountering the many personality types across the healthcare system takes social skill. As you work with this wide variety of individuals, you will develop strong professional relationships/friendships with several of them.

Click HERE to read more.


Diplomate Spotlight Section Header


MP Diplomate’s Dreams Taking Flight in Astronaut Training


Christopher Williams, PhD, has always wanted to become a NASA astronaut. After applying in 2020 and getting selected in November 2021, Dr. Williams’ hopes are being realized.

Dr. Williams started two years of training last month in Houston. After that, he’ll be a full-fledged astronaut ready for a mission. We had the chance to catch up with him in December to discuss the fulfillment of his lifelong goal.



Complete These Tasks Before Your Annual Review


As we approach the March 2 Continuing Certification (MOC) annual review, here are a few reminders for ABR diplomates.

Complete your Continuing Certification attestations by March 1

To update the ABR on your Continuing Certification progress, log in to myABR and click on each red incomplete requirement tab. On the bottom right, you will see the green “I Attest” button.

If all your tabs are green and your reporting status is showing that you are “Certified – Meeting MOC Requirements,” you have attested for this year, and you do not need to attest again until January 1 to March 1 of next year. If all your tabs are green and your reporting status is showing “Certified – Not Meeting MOC Requirements,” please contact a certification manager at so we can verify your status.

Click HERE to read more.



ABR Achieves Platinum Status for Fifth Straight Year


The ABR has once again been awarded a Platinum rating from Candid GuideStar, the highest level of recognition. Candid GuideStar reports on nonprofit organizations in the United States and offers four seals to represent an organization’s level of transparency, from Bronze to Platinum. As of April 2021, more than 78,000 nonprofits had one of these seals, but only 15% had achieved Platinum status.

For more information, check out the ABR’s GuideStar profile



ASTRO, RSNA Annual Meeting Attendees Happy to Get Together Again

By Rodney Campbell, ABR Communications Manager


For the first time in two years, ASTRO and RSNA held in-person annual meetings late last year. Both organizations put COVID-19 restrictions in place and had approximately half their usual attendance.

A few attendees offered their thoughts on the meetings and their optimism about a return to more traditional get-togethers soon.

ASTRO (Oct. 24-27 in Chicago)

Therese Andraos, MD
Therese Andraos, MD

“ASTRO 2021 was a success on many levels. We had color-coded lanyards to distinguish those who were comfortable shaking hands (green) from others who prefer elbow bumps (yellow) or no contact (red). Other social distancing measures present during the conference included empty seats between attendees, clear social distancing signs, and mandatory masks. The interaction with peers was very smooth and everyone adjusted to the other person’s social distancing preferences. The interpersonal connection among attendees was clearly much stronger than any virtual conference, and it was a wonderful experience to connect with so many colleagues I had not seen in years. Kudos to ASTRO leadership and the planning committee for this great comeback after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Therese Y. Andraos, MD

Radiation oncology chief resident at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Dr. Andraos is an executive member of the radiosurgery society resident committee, where she serves as the leader of the white papers committee.

Click HERE to read more.


ABR Trustee Awarded SIR Gold Medal


M. Victoria (Vicki) Marx, MD
M. Victoria (Vicki) Marx, MD

Congratulations to ABR Trustee M. Victoria (Vicki) Marx, MD, for being awarded the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) Gold Medal for 2022. The SIR Gold Medal was established in 1996 and is the highest honor that can be achieved in the field of interventional radiology. This honor is bestowed for excellence and lifetime achievement in interventional radiology to individuals who have rendered exceptional service to the field. Gold Medal recipients exemplify those who have dedicated their past and present talents to advancing the quality of patient care through the practice of interventional radiology, and who, by their outstanding achievements, also help to ensure the future of the field.

After completion of residency and fellowship, Dr. Marx was on the faculty of University of Michigan from 1989 to 1999, serving as IR section chief for the last three years. She has been on the USC faculty since 1999, serving as diagnostic radiology residency program director from 2008 to 2019. She currently serves as associate program director of both the DR and IR residencies at USC. Dr. Marx has a strong history of leadership in diagnostic radiology and interventional radiology. She served as the 2018-2019 President of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) and the 2020-2021 President of the Association of Program Directors in Radiology (APDR). She is also a member of the ACGME’s Radiology Residency Review Committee.


January 25 Blog

Exposure to Radiology Changes Medical Student’s Mind

January 18 Blog

Bring Your Questions to Next Month’s Town Halls

January 11 Blog

ABR BOG Member Has Busy Year of Volunteering Ahead

January 4 Blog

Virtual Open Houses Beneficial for Future Residents, Field

December 28 Blog

Executive Director: ABR, Stakeholders Overcame Challenges in 2021

December 14 Blog

Former ABR Board President Ready to Take on RSNA Role



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