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Choice: Why Having Options in Board Certification is Important for Physicians

Choice: Why Having Options in Board Certification is Important for PhysiciansSome hospitals have begun to realize that choice in board certification is good not only for patient care, but for physicians as well. By giving physician options of other recognized boards of certification besides the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) in their bylaws, hospitals and health care organizations prevent monopolization of the industry and thereby encourage competition.

Just as with other industries, competition among certification boards should be encouraged to advance best practices. According to Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy thought and research, “Competition amongst boards within a specialty could promote price competition, innovation in physician assessment, and the potential for increased signaling information for consumers.”

A lack of competition comes at a high cost when one considers the financial burdens placed on physicians. The average American medical school student graduates with a relatively substantial debt. If a physician chooses to specialize in a field such as cardiology, that debt would almost double. For a physician to earn and maintain certification with the ABMS would result in even more costs in terms of fees. Furthermore, some specialties require a separate oral exam, and each sub-specialty requires a separate written exam, and each exam comes with fees.

Maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements also make significant demands on physicians’ time. One study estimates that MOC study and preparation costs the average doctor several thousand dollars over ten years in terms of lost time. If physicians had more certification boards to choose from, heightened innovation for certification, re-certification, and MOC would be a likely result.

Many physicians might agree that MOC is problematic. According to a recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 81 percent of doctors, regardless of specialty, years of experience, or geographic location, say that MOC activities are a burden. Only 24 percent agree that “MOC activities are relevant to their patients.” Additionally, only 12 percent consider MOC activities well-integrated in their daily routines.

Increased competition among boards could go a long way toward easing such concerns. Competition could give physicians more flexibility in choosing the board that best reflects their core values and fosters their career development. Competition could also encourage boards to remove the burdensome requirements that physicians face in continuing their medical practice, and this could lead to better patient care and, conceivably, the advancement of health care in general.

The American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) believes in giving qualified professionals a choice when researching certification boards. Our stringent testing standards allow a physician to demonstrate mastery of the core competencies required to provide the best possible patient care. Furthermore, we encourage our Diplomates to remain updated about new techniques and treatment methods to achieve recertification and to help shape the future of healthcare. For information about the ABPS, contact us today.