Keeping up with the advances in medicine is a daunting goal for every physician.
At MRIoA all of our Medical Directors, Associate Medical Directors, and Reviewers are “Board Certified” in their field of expertise. We’ll discuss board certification later.
Now a flashback into the minds of “pre-physicians.” The decision to become a physician may occur in childhood, high school, college or after college. In fact, it may occur after a career in a different trade or profession. There are several common characteristics which most “pre-physicians” and physicians seem to share: they tend to be highly motivated “over achievers,” and, according to one journal article, they tend have varying degrees of OCD. Staying current in medicine can include many strategies: daily reading of journals, daily internet updates, audio updates to be listened to while exercising, or webinars, to name a few.
The purpose of Board Certification is to ensure a certain level of competency and “current knowledge” of the “Standard of Care” of each specialty. Some of the goals of Board Certification are to:
- Improve patient care and procedure skills
- Improve ongoing medical knowledge
- Improve Practice-based learning
- Improve interpersonal and communications skills
- Improve competency in systems-based resources
There are two main specialty certifying organizations in medicine. The American Osteopathic Association has 18 Specialty Certifying Boards. The American Board of Medical Specialties has 24 Medical Specialty Member Boards. While it is not mandatory be Board Certified in order to practice medicine, Board Certification is required in order to obtain privileges in most hospitals. Board Certification is also required to be included in the “preferred panel” of many insurance companies.
Defining a Medical Specialty
“The core body of knowledge that defines an area of medical specialization is referred to as the core competencies for that specialty. Core competencies are developed through detailed review of the medical literature combined with review by recognized experts from established medical specialties, experts within the new area of specialization and experts from outside the medical profession. This list of core knowledge and skills is then compiled into a draft core competency document.”
“Physicians seeking board certification in a given area of specialty must successfully complete and pass an examination process designed to test their mastery of the minimum knowledge and skills contained in the core competency document. Prior to taking the examination, a physician must graduate with a degree, either MD or DO, and meet all other prerequisites to certification as set out by the certifying agency or “board.”
Board certification is overseen by different agencies and organizations throughout the world. In most cases, these organizations are not only specific to a particular type of physician training (MD vs. DO), but a specific country or group of countries. There are several agencies or organizations in the United States which collectively oversee the certification of M.D.s and D.O.s in the 26 recognized medical specialties. These organizations are the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Medical Association; the American Osteopathic Association Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists (AOABOS) and the American Osteopathic Association; the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) and the American Association of Physician Specialists. AOABOS and ABPS each have associated with associated national medical organization functions as an umbrella for its various specialty academies, colleges and societies. The American Board of Medical Specialties represents the largest of these organizations, with over 800,000 US physicians having received certification from one or more of its 24-member Boards. The ABMS is not affiliated with any medical society. ABPS is recognized by most states, however, there are some states where physicians are not, by law, allowed to call themselves “board certified” if the specialty designation is from their boards.
Many boards of certification now require that physicians demonstrate, by examination, continuing mastery of the core knowledge and skills for their chosen specialty. Recertification varies by specialty between every seven and every ten years.
In summary, staying current in medicine is a continual challenge. Obtaining and maintaining Board Certification aids in staying current with the “Standard of Care” in each Medical Specialty.
At MRIoA we take pride in requiring and supporting the process of Board Certification of our physician.
Bennion D. Buchanan, MD, FACEP, MBA