News from the ABR

The Beam February 2023

February 2023 | Volume 16, Issue 1

Diagnostic Radiology Qualifying (Core) Breast Committee

The Diagnostic Radiology Qualifying (Core) Breast Committee met last year in Chicago to assemble the breast sections of the Qualifying Exam. Pictured (from left to right) are committee members Jill Gluskin, MD; Yara Feliciano, MD; Brandi Nicholson, MD (Chair); Pamela Propeck, MD (Trustee); Renee Pinsky, MD; and Emily Ambinder, MD, as well as Exam Developer Bianka Flannagan. Not pictured: Debra Copit, MD; Stephanie Patterson, MD; Sunita Pal, MD; Deborah Cunningham, MD; Tamara Ortiz-Perez, MD; Heather Greenwood, MD.


From the Editor

New Year Brings Exciting Board Initiatives and Activities

Mary S. Newell, MDBy Mary S. Newell, MD, ABR Governor


With 2023 upon us, I hope we all feel newly invigorated to pursue rewarding initiatives and interests, professional but personal as well! I plan to bake the perfect baguette this year, among other projects. In this issue of The Beam, we see there is activity aplenty at the ABR, with many exciting results.     

In this issue . . .

From the President

ABR President Robert Barr, MD, and Executive Director Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, detail the strategic priorities and areas of emphasis on which the ABR governing board and management team are focused, ensuring an important balance in the certification process, as well as enhanced service across the organization.

From the Executive Director

Dr. Wagner very “concretely” makes note (after a fortuitous elevator conversation) that the ABR’s vital mission parallels that of other organizations tasked with certifying the quality and competence of their members for the benefit of all stakeholders.   

Click HERE to read more.


Balance in Certification Process, Better Service Among Areas of Emphasis for Board and Staff

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


In the October issue of The Beam, we shared two important strategic priorities: first, continued optimization of effective and transparent communication, and second, an ongoing focus on controlling costs. In this issue, we address six other areas of emphasis for the ABR governing board and management team.

  1. Create/maintain balance in our certification processes. Our certification programs should be robust enough to serve the public interest by defining high standards of achievement for our candidates and diplomates while avoiding overly cumbersome requirements or requirements that are confusing or irrelevant to practice. 
  1. Maintain the highest standards in our assessment processes. We must make sure that our exams and assessments are unbiased, fair, and valid indicators of the knowledge and skill of our candidates and diplomates. This starts with efforts to optimize relevance across a broad domain of knowledge and experience. Beyond that, we emphasize not only iterative content development by skilled experts in the radiologic specialties and subspecialties but also rigorous psychometric review and validation. 

Click HERE to read more.


Conference Provides Concrete Example of Certification’s Value

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


I had the opportunity to attend the annual ABMS Conference in Chicago last September. The conference brings together staff and volunteers from the 24 Member Boards from various medical specialties and offers hundreds of attendees a variety of opportunities to share challenges, ideas, and best practices. The three-day session featured an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and competency-based medical education (CBME), a recognized goal of the ACGME (and related to the ABMS mission).

By chance, I met someone who – based on his attendee badge – was part of a different conference in a separate wing of the hotel. Because we were in an elevator, I was able to hear a genuine “elevator pitch” in response to my question “What is PCI”? The short answer was “Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute”; his expanded response to my quizzical expression was what they do: in his words, they offer “programs to enhance the quality of precast concrete.” Before we reached the lobby, I had time for one more question: “Do you require adherence to a set of standards?” As the doors opened, he answered in the affirmative, and I was immediately struck by the similarity of the activities of two seemingly disparate organizations. In both focused and broad contexts, the ABR and PCI strive to do the same thing: allow the consumer (in the case of ABMS and the ABR, the patient) and the public to rely on a set of standards designed to support a higher level of quality, safety, and reliability.

Click HERE to read more.


DEI Committee Taking on Unconscious Bias 

By Rodney Campbell, ABR Communications Manager


Paul Rochon, MD, and Toby Gordon, ScD
DEI Committee Chair Paul Rochon, MD, and ABR Governor Toby Gordon, ScD

The ABR’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee is making progress on its first priority.

The committee, which launched in late fall of 2021, has made addressing unconscious bias in oral and computer-based exams its initial focus. Committee Chair Paul J. Rochon, MD, an ABR trustee, acknowledges that everyone has at least an unintentional bias that could impact how an oral exam is conducted or a computer-based exam question is written.

“What unconscious bias means to me is having a perception of an entity or a person or a group of people that is rooted within my own point of view,” he said. “Maybe I’m missing out on some things that may be impactful or discriminatory to that group of people or person.”

Toby Gordon, ScD, a member of the DEI Committee and the ABR Board of Governors public member, knows that many of the ABR’s approximately 1,100 volunteers receive unconscious bias training at their institutions. She believes what the ABR will offer can serve as a valuable supplement.

Click HERE to read more.


Focus on DR

Aggregate Exam Results Report Allows Residency Review Committee to Evaluate Programs

Donald J. Flemming, MD, and Brooke Houck, PhDBy Donald J. Flemming, MD, ABR Governor, and Brooke Houck, PhD, ABR Psychometrician


Quality graduate medical education outcomes are tightly tied to excellent feedback for individuals and residency programs. External feedback, such as outcomes from secure, externally administered and psychometrically sound exams, provides valuable objective data about program quality to residency programs. In fact, these outcomes are so important that all ACGME-accredited core residency programs must formally assess the results of board exams on an annual basis, and underperforming programs can receive a citation from their respective Review Committee for not meeting ACGME standards.

The ABR provides residency programs a pass/fail report for all initial certification exams at the same time that residents and program graduates receive their individual results. The report for the qualifying exams is more detailed than the certification exam because of the comprehensive nature of the exam and its program accreditation implications: the Radiology Review Committee uses only the qualifying exam board pass rate in its evaluation of residency programs. In the past, program directors were provided detailed data about the exam results for individual residents. The Board of Governors voted to discontinue this practice in 2022 to meet the spirit and intent of ABR bylaws. Candidates, however, continue to receive detailed feedback about their individual performances. Residents who fail the qualifying exam may choose to provide their exam report to mentors assisting them with remediation efforts.

Click HERE to read more.


Focus on IR

ABR Changes Interventional Radiology Oral Exam Timing

James Spies, MDBy James B. Spies, MD, MPH, ABR Associate Executive Director for Interventional Radiology


In January, the ABR Board of Governors changed the requirement for interventional radiology residency graduates to qualify for the oral component of the ABR IR/DR Certifying Exam. Beginning with the residency class graduating in June 2024, candidates will be required to wait until the calendar year following completion of training to take the exam. This change will align IR with the other ABR disciplines of diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, and medical physics, which have a similar requirement. The change also more closely aligns current trainees with the requirements for those who qualified previously via IR fellowships, which required a year of practice prior to the exam. This new requirement will apply only to the oral exam; graduates will continue to be allowed and, in fact, encouraged to take the computer-based component of the certifying exam at the first offering after graduation.

The ABR IR/DR Certifying Exam has two components – computer-based and oral  ̶  and both must be passed for certification. The computer-based component is given once a year in early autumn in conjunction with the Diagnostic Radiology Computer-based Certifying Exam. Currently, there are two opportunities each year to take the oral component: a main multi-day exam in October and a more limited exam in the spring. While the ABR theoretically would like to offer candidates an unrestricted choice of examining in the spring or fall, the practical limitations of staffing, exam content, and examiner availability require a limit on the number of days of examination each year. This is typically a total of four days, with a three-day main event and a one-day alternative. This schedule provides more than enough seats for candidates, but it has limited the choice between spring and fall to some degree. Recently, the three-day exam has been in the fall. The net effect of the BOG decision will likely be to change the primary multi-day exam to the spring with the one-day exam in the fall.

Click HERE to read more.



New Categories for the Oral Certifying Exam

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


The ABR Medical Physics Oral Certifying exams in the three specialties (diagnostic, therapeutic, and nuclear) are administered in five categories. To pass the exam, a candidate needs to pass all five categories; passing four of the five results in a conditioned status. Occasionally, the categories are adjusted to make the exam better fit current practice patterns or to make the category distribution more balanced.

Starting with the April 2023 administration, candidates taking the Diagnostic Medical Physics (DMP) Oral Certifying Exam will be tested using questions derived from the new categories shown below, also found on the ABR website. These changes were made to balance the distribution of content among the categories and to define the subcategories more clearly. Neither the exam content nor how a candidate might prepare for the exam have changed, but the categories, category descriptions, and distribution of content among the various categories have all been updated. Candidates who conditioned on a previous exam will continue to be tested using the category structure in place at the time they conditioned.

Click HERE to read more.


A Tribute to Dr. Paul Wallner

By Andrea K. Ng, MD, MPH; Brian J. Davis, MD, PhD; John H. Suh, MD; and Catheryn Yashar, MD, ABR Trustees; and Kaled M. Alektiar, MD, ABR Governor


Paul Wallner, DO
Paul Wallner, DO, ABR Associate Executive Director for Radiation Oncology

After having served as the associate executive director of radiation oncology at the ABR for 14 years, our esteemed Paul Wallner, DO, will be stepping back from the position. With his vast experience, depth of knowledge, and unparalleled work ethic, he has provided exceptional services to the ABR during his tenure. He will be greatly missed by all.

Dr. Wallner completed his training 50 years ago, dual-boarded in both diagnostic radiology/nuclear medicine and radiation oncology (therapeutic radiology at the time). Over the decades, he has led an illustrious career, which includes serving as chair of the department of radiation oncology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Camden, vice chair of operations and administration at the department of radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and senior vice president at GenesisCare. 

Click HERE to read more.


Visiting Scholar Seeking Feedback on Continuing Certification

By Rodney Campbell, ABR Communications Manager


Sara Hunter, MD
Sara Hunter, MD

Research performed by Sara Hunter, MD, the ABR’s first American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Visiting Scholar, is offering physicians the opportunity to share their thoughts on Continuing Certification.

Diagnostic and interventional radiologists who are participating in Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA) should have received an email in January with a link to a survey. Dr. Hunter estimates it will take 25 to 30 minutes to complete the 21 questions; answers can be saved and the survey revisited later.

Her project is titled, “It’s Not Enough to be Up-to-Date, You Have to be Up-to-Tomorrow: How Longitudinal Assessment Encourages Radiologists to Stay Current.” She and her small research team worked for several months to prepare the survey. Her mentor, Kavita Bhatt, MD, also is assisting. Like Dr. Hunter, Dr. Bhatt is a diagnostic radiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Click HERE to read more.


ABR Staff Spotlight Header

Often Tested, Exam Day Help Desk Has the Answers

By Heather S. Hopkins, ABR Communications Coordinator


When the ABR switched from in-person to remote exams, we endeavored not only to make the exams secure and reliable, but also to create a positive experience for candidates.

An ABR certification manager talks with a candidate on the Exam Day Help Desk.

Staff from almost every department have played a role in achieving this goal: IT designed user-friendly exam platforms, Exam Delivery and Communications created exam guides and videos, Special Projects Administrators conducted technical checks, and the Certification Services Division (CSD) made phone calls. It has been a team effort to make sure candidates are prepared to have a successful exam day.

But regardless of how much information is sent or training provided, when exam day rolls around, some candidates may have issues. When they do, they can turn to the Exam Day Help Desk (EDHD).

The EDHD is a complex operation that involves a large and varied group of ABR staff and is constantly evolving. Debriefings after each exam administration have helped us to improve the level of customer service offered to candidates and make the system for keeping track of candidate interactions more efficient.

Click HERE to read more.


Reminders for ABR Diplomates


Complete Your Continuing Certification Attestations by March 1

To update 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 “Certified – Meeting MOC Requirements,” you have attested for this year. If all your tabs are green and your reporting status is “Certified – Not Meeting MOC Requirements,” please contact a certification manager at so we can verify your status.

The ABR no longer requires you to enter or upload detailed information regarding your Continuing Certification requirements. After you attest in myABR, simply retain your documentation in case you are selected for an audit.

This is the last time you will have to attest to SA-CME if you complete your OLA annual progress requirement. All diplomates will still need to complete 75 Category 1 CME credits in the previous three-year period, regardless of OLA participation, but SA-CME is no longer required for OLA participants.

Click HERE to read more.


DR Trustee Named Fellow of the Society of Breast Imaging


Pamela Propeck, MDCongratulations to Pamela A. Propeck, MD, FACR, for being named a Fellow of the Society of Breast Imaging. The FSBI distinction is among the highest honors bestowed upon members of the Society of Breast Imaging. It is granted to members who have demonstrated excellence in the discipline of breast imaging and are recognized leaders in the field.

Dr. Propeck is a professor of radiology (CHS) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. She has served the ABR in many capacities, including as an oral board examiner, member of the Breast Certifying and OLA committees, and chair of the Breast OLA Committee. Currently she is on the Board of Trustees representing breast imaging.

She also has been involved with several ACR breast accreditation committees over the years and is now serving as a senior reviewer for the ACR Breast Ultrasound/Biopsy Accreditation Program. She was designated Champion of Women’s Health in Wisconsin for her contributions in breast cancer screening and diagnosis. She also directed the Big Sky Radiology Conference in Montana for many years. She works in the Community Division of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Department of Radiology providing breast care services within the UW system as well as in outlying rural communities.

Dr. Mimi Newell Named New DR Associate Executive Director


Mary S. Newell, MDLongtime ABR volunteer Mary (Mimi) Newell, MD, has been named associate executive director (AED) for diagnostic radiology. She will begin her duties next summer.

Current DR AED Reed Dunnick, MD, will assist Dr. Newell during the transition. Dr. Dunnick became an AED in July 2019.

Dr. Newell will step down from her position on the ABR Board of Governors when she starts her AED work. She has been a volunteer for 14 years.

Dr. Newell is a professor in the department of radiology and imaging sciences and interim director of the breast imaging division at Emory University. 

Four AEDs work as part-time staff and serve as extensions of the executive director. They partner with their ABR colleagues and the diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, medical physics, and radiation oncology fields to improve continuing and initial certification processes.


January 31 Blog

Drawn to Radiology, He Still Makes Time for Art

January 10 Blog

Match Cycle Becomes Educational Experience

January 4 Blog

He’s Back on His Bike After Frightening Incident

December 27 Blog

Candidates, Diplomates Looking Forward to Productive 2023

December 6 Blog

The Joys and Sorrows of Journal Editing

December 1 Blog

Massachusetts Physician Named AED for Radiation Oncology




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