ABIM Increases Physician Choice with New Assessment Option

The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) is providing more choice to physicians who are working to maintain their board certification. ABIM has decided to take this step after physicians asked for more flexible options that affirm to themselves, their patients, and their peers that they are staying current in medical knowledge.

As ABIM has been re-thinking the process for continuous certification, the organization invited all 200,000 ABIM Board Certified physicians and twenty-seven medical societies to share input. This first phase of dialogue guided the ABIM Council, a body of practicing physicians from several internal medicine subspecialties, to update the assessment process.

The option that emerged as the one that provided the most choice, relevance and convenience was short assessments every two years emerged. This will help physicians to maintain their certification and confidence that they are staying current in their education.

Physicians will able to choose to take assessments every two years or every 10 years. 

Details about the two-year assessment

  • You can choose to take the two-year assessment on your personal or work computer – or at a testing center.
  • You do not need a passing score on every two-year assessment. However, if you are unsuccessful twice in a row or if there is a longer gap between assessments, you will need to take additional steps to maintain certification.
  • You will have more dates from which to choose when scheduling the two-year assessment.
  • This “knowledge check-in” offers more continuous learning, feedback and improvement. Results will be available immediately after the assessment. More feedback will follow.

General Details

  • Beginning in 2018, physicians certified in Internal Medicine can choose to take shorter “knowledge check-ins”—at the location they choose—every two years.
  • To assist physicians with adjusting to changes—and for ABIM to learn from the process— there will be no consequences for unsuccessful performance on the two-year assessment in 2018.
  • ABIM will share updates on availability of these options for subspecialties in the coming months.
  • Physicians can still choose to take an assessment every 10 years in a testing center. ABIM is continuing to collaborate with physicians to make this option more reflective of practice.
  • ABIM is also working to make the 10-year assessment open book.

Dr. Richard J. Baron, President and CEO of ABIM, created a video message about these changes, which can be found here.

Industry Reaction

 “ABIM is changing because physicians are changing it. We are very proud to be collaborating with the many doctors who are constructively helping us update the assessment process,” said Richard J. Baron, MD, ABIM’s President and CEO and a board certified internist who practiced for 30 years in his Philadelphia community.

“Doctors want a certification program that integrates into their daily routine, while affirming to their patients and peers that they have up-to-date medical knowledge. That is exactly why ABIM is introducing assessment options.”

“By involving physicians in every step of the process, ABIM has been able to simplify its programs to focus on meaningful activities that increase knowledge, provide doctors confidence in their practice, and allow doctors more time to devote to patient care,” said Jeanne M. Marrazzo, MD, Chair of ABIM Council. “This work is constantly evolving as we move forward, and we’re proud that the steps we’re taking are informed by physicians who are dedicated to improving patient care.”

“The number of activities is just unprecedented in terms of ways we’ve been partnering with the physician community. Again, not abandoning the core principle of saying board certification means something,” said Clarence H. Braddock, III, MD, Chair of the ABIM Board of Directors. “It’s a badge of honor to have mastered a body of clinical knowledge and skills that you want to be able to proudly display, but at the same time, we want to make sure that it’s realistic and relevant through the eyes of the practicing physician.”

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