Opportunities to Advance Continuing Certification

On March 15, 2018

By Richard E. Hawkins, MD, ABMS President and Chief Executive Officer

As I navigate my first months at ABMS, I am struck by the number of opportunities that ABMS and the Member Boards have to advance continuing certification.

To do that effectively, we need to lay a foundation based on the following priorities: enhancing internal alignment, implementing a robust engagement plan, working with key partners who share our commitment to meaningful professional self-regulation, reimagining the value proposition for continuing certification, and tending to our core mission.

Internal alignment on standards, policies, processes, and program development among the ABMS Member Boards is critical. It requires recognizing that the Boards are interdependent and have a shared accountability to each other and to the ABMS brand, yet still need to remain true to their established organization. We must re-affirm our shared vision and common sense of purpose in order to succeed in advancing certification and continuing certification.

A robust engagement plan will help ABMS address legislative activities that threaten the extrinsic value of the certificate. We need to strengthen our relationships with existing key partners, and identify new ones, that have a stake in professional self-regulation and are adversely impacted by a diminution of professional standards. Among them are our Associate Members, professional and state medical societies, hospitals and health systems, and health plans.

When it comes to physicians, we need to listen more, and understand what their concerns are and what we can do to help them learn and improve in the context of their practice. Although our primary stakeholder is the public, unless we get the profession’s buy-in to, and engagement in, the process, continuing certification will never live up to its full potential. The Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Initiative is one example that will provide an opportunity to bring together multiple partners, including the Boards Community, to vision a system of continuing Board Certification that is meaningful, relevant, and of value to physicians.

Continuing certification needs to be effectively integrated into the physician practice workflow for it to offer value and be embraced. Assessment that drives learning and improvement is a simple and relevant concept that resonates with physicians and patients alike. The value proposition must illustrate how continuous improvement in knowledge and skills improves the quality of health care. We must continue the great work already underway, evaluate our programs to identify ways we can improve them, and provide evidence to the public and the profession that they are improving care.

Our programs must advance the Quadruple Aim. A prepared workforce functioning in a supportive practice environment is better equipped to improve the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction) and improve the health of populations while reducing health care costs. Continuing certification can be designed, for example, to better serve physicians’ intrinsic drives, support activities that decrease physician stress, identify ways to improve practice efficiency, and incorporate efforts to recognize and address physician burnout.

I look forward to working with the Board of Directors and leadership, the Member Boards and extended Boards Community, and ABMS staff on these priorities, which I view as incredible opportunities for us to collectively shape the future of Board Certification. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of our shared commitment to the promise of professional self-regulation and the mission that resonates from Higher Standards, Better Care.

© 2018, American Board of Medical Specialties. All rights reserved.

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