Fall 2016 Blog Update: Community Voices Chart a Path Forward

ABIM has been busy synthesizing 20 months of input from the community in order to improve the process of maintaining certification. During that time, we invited all 200,000 ABIM Board Certified physicians to participate in this process and share ideas. We also engaged many medical societies, which represent physician members in various subspecialties. This is only the first phase of an ongoing dialogue.

Overall results: How common themes will inform next steps

Across all of these conversations, physicians requested assessment options with more:

  • Choice: “[A shorter assessment] seems to be the best option for busy clinicians. Shorter exams, less test-taking fatigue and anxiety, more access to results on a real-time basis. And more opportunity to remain abreast of our field on a shorter interval frequency.”
  • Relevance to current knowledge and practice: “I like the increased frequency of the 2 year plan. I believe this provides a chance to keep current, not lose/forget as much current knowledge between testing internals, and probably make the test itself less stressful.”
  • Convenience: “A small number of hours in a given day more frequently makes sense [for an assessment]. It can be integrated well into administrative and educational time I already have carved into my schedule without disrupting clinical care and research tasks.”

Moving forward, these themes will inform all the work underway at ABIM, including:

  • Providing assessment options (more details on options will be announced later this month).
  • Offering more activities that count for both CME credit and MOC points.
  • Continuing to build on a governance structure that includes peers practicing in your field, patient advocates and allied professionals. View more about this evolution.
  • Highlighting evidence that the work you do to stay current makes a positive difference.

Survey results: More details about what you requested

In the spring of 2016, ABIM released results from our first ever all-diplomate survey. These results indicated that 21 percent of physicians prefer an exam every 10 years; however, the clearest recommendation we received was to offer an alternative. In response to this feedback, ABIM has been working to develop potential two-year and five-year assessment options that are shorter and lower stakes.

Through fall 2016, we collected input from a second all-diplomate survey regarding the two-year and five-year options. Those survey results are now available to view.

To summarize key findings from the representative sample:

  • There was a robust response rate among a sample of physicians that was representative across demographic characteristics of the population.
  • There was a consistent preference for the two-year option when physicians were asked which option would help physicians identify knowledge gaps, stay current and reduce anxiety.
  • When asked simply to compare the options, physicians found the five-year interval generally more favorable, while many agreed that the features available in the two-year assessment offered more flexibility.
  • Physicians rated both assessment options evenly in many areas.

The survey results, operational considerations and conversations with hundreds of doctors from focus groups and society meetings will help determine which assessment option moves forward. We appreciate the time thousands of you devoted to share constructive comments and look forward to engaging you in the next steps. Please continue to email me with your thoughts and ideas.