The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), in partnership with its 24 Member Boards, is committed to improving the quality of health care through setting professional standards for lifelong certification.
After physicians become board certified, they maintain their medical specialty expertise by participating in a robust, continuous professional development program. This continuing certification program provides physicians with a structured approach for enhancing patient care and improving patient outcomes through focused assessment and improvement activities.
Vision Initiative Recommendations and Action Plan
About the Vision Initiative
Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future was an initiative that brought together multiple partners to envision a system of continuing board certification that is meaningful, relevant and of value to physicians. At the same time, the process would need to remain responsive to the patients, hospitals and others who expect that physician specialists are maintaining their knowledge and skills to provide quality specialty care.
An independent Commission was formed, representing a broad cross-section of physicians from a wide variety of specialties and practice settings, and a diverse group of stakeholder communities that included national specialty and state medical societies, hospitals and health systems, health care organizations, ABMS Member Boards, and the general public. The Commission members assessed the status of continuing board certification and, in its final report, made recommendations to help enable the current process to become a system that demonstrates the profession’s commitment to professional self-regulation, offers a consistent and clear understanding of what continuing certification means, and establishes a program that meets the highest standard of quality patient care.
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The Plan for Achieving the Vision for Continuing Certification
ABMS and its Member Boards are committed to implementing the Commission’s recommendations, and to maintaining the inclusive nature of the Commission by working with external stakeholders as well as those within the ABMS community. These and future implementation efforts will help the boards to evolve continuing certification into a meaningful and relevant program that brings both value to a physician’s practice and meets the highest standard of quality patient care.
During its February 2019 meeting, the ABMS Board of Directors reviewed the Commission’s final report in detail to determine how best to address the recommendations outlined. The Board agreed to the following first steps toward implementing the Commission’s findings:
- Creation of an Oversight Committee, whose members are selected based on their expertise, knowledge, and understanding of the Commission’s report, and their leadership positions in the ABMS community. The Oversight Committee will seek guidance from the ABMS Stakeholder Council and various other stakeholders in the continuing certification process, to help direct the work of the following five task forces as part of the Achieving the Vision implementation plan:
- Advancing Practice Task Force
- Information and Data Sharing Task Force
- Professionalism Task Force
- Remediation Task Force
- Standards Task Force*
- Agreement of all 24 ABMS Member Boards to commit to longitudinal or other formative assessment strategies, and to offer alternatives to the highly secure, point-in-time examinations of knowledge.
- Commitment by ABMS to develop new, integrated standards for continuing certification programs by 2020. The standards will address the Commission recommendations for flexibility in knowledge assessment and advancing practice, feedback to diplomates, and consistency.
* The Standards Task Force will be composed of members of the ABMS Board of Directors and the ABMS Committee on Continuing Certification. The other four task forces will be composed of representatives from various external stakeholders in the continuing certification process as well as from ABMS Member Boards. The members of these task forces are expected to be announced in late June.
News and Developments Regarding Continuing Certification
Follow the progress of ABMS and its Member Boards: Sign up for email updates about the Achieving the Vision initiative for continuing certification.
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- October 14, 2019 — Focus on Professionalism
- ABMS Professionalism Task Force held its first, in-person meeting on Monday, September 23 in Chicago Read more...
- July 11, 2019 — Continuing Board Certification: Achieving the Vision Task Forces Named
- Members announced for the Advancing Practice, Professionalism, Remediation, and Standards Task Forces Read more...
- June 26, 2019 — Achieving the Vision Update - June 2019
- ABMS Affirms its Policy Regarding Use of Certification to Hospital Leaders/Chief Medical Officers Read more...
- June 7, 2019 — ABMS Sends Letter to Hospital CMOs Achieving the Vision announcement
- On June 5, 2019, ABMS Board Chair Barry S. Smith, MD, and ABMS President and CEO Richard E. Hawkins, MD, wrote a letter to chief medical officers and executive leaders at hospitals and health systems throughout the country. Read more...
- May 20, 2019 — Achieving the Vision Update - May 2019
- ABMS names members of Achieving the Vision Oversight Committee and identifies five Task Forces Read more...
- May 17, 2019 — Vision for the Future of Continuing Board Certification JAMA Viewpoint article
- "... recommendations [of the report] reimagine the working relationships among ABMS boards, specialty societies, and continuing medical education/continuing professional development organizations ..." Read more...
- March 20, 2019 — Sometimes You Just Don't Know ABMS Insights article
- By Donald J. Palmisano Jr. Executive Director of the Medical Association of Georgia Read more…
- March 20, 2019 — Speaking One-on-One with the Vision Commission Co-Chairs ABMS Insights article
- Christopher Colenda, MD, MPH, and William Scanlon, PhD, reflect on the past year and the work of the Commission in a Q&A. Read more ...
- March 19, 2019 — ABMS Board of Directors Announces Plan to Implement Recommendations from the Continuing Board Certification: Vision Commission Final Report Achieving the Vision announcement
- "These and future implementation efforts will help the Boards evolve continuing certification into a meaningful and relevant program that both brings value to a physician’s practice and meets the highest standard of quality patient care." Read more …
- March 12, 2019 — ABMS Announces Plan to Implement Recommendations from the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission Press Release
- ABMS to take immediate action on independent Commission’s recommendations to make continuing certification programs more meaningful, relevant and of value to key stakeholders Read more …
- February 13, 2019 — Statement Regarding the Release of the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission Final Report to the American Board of Medical Specialties Board of Directors
- ABMS and its 24 Member Boards commend the members of the Continuing Board Certification: Vision of the Future Commission (Commission) for their dedication and hard work in creating their final report ... Read more…