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Hospital Bylaws Should Not Restrict Qualified Physicians

Hospital BylawsMany decades ago, a group of osteopathic surgeons who had completed allopathic residencies applied for board certification through the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), but they were denied because they had not completed osteopathic residencies. The surgeons then turned to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), but once again, they were rejected. This time, it wasn’t because they lacked osteopathic residency completion, but because they were, in fact, osteopathic doctors. Disappointed but determined, the group decided to create a physician board certification that did not discriminate based on training but actually tested physicians’ knowledge of their chosen specialty. Hence the founding in 1952 of the American Board of Physician Specialties ® (ABPS), a multi-specialty board certifying body that recognizes licensed physicians who have shown, through testing and performance, mastery of their medical fields.

The ABPS certified its first physician in 1960, and since then has certified numerous highly qualified and demonstrably skilled physicians in traditional medical specialties such as dermatology and internal medicine, and in emerging specialties such as disaster medicine and integrative medicine. Although the ABMS now certifies osteopathic physicians, the ABPS is proud to have led the way, and remains fully committed to a non-discriminatory approach to board certification.

Unfortunately, when it comes to hiring policies, some medical organizations are not as non-discriminatory. Their bylaws are written so narrowly that they unwittingly discriminate against physicians certified by the ABPS. When this happens, eminently qualified physicians are turned away from staff membership, and the result is that patients are deprived of receiving the superior medical care that these accomplished practitioners deliver. Currently, as a result of restrictive bylaws, organizations across the country face physician shortages in certain specialties. In its quest to deliver the highest quality of medical care possible, the ABPS promotes the awareness of unnecessarily restrictive bylaws.

Change has begun. A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor updated its Occupational Outlook Handbook to include the ABPS as an option for board certification for physicians. “What we are asking bylaws to do is get with the current standard,” says Jeff Morris, executive director of the ABPS.

If the goal of bylaws is to ensure quality standards, then hospitals and other medical facilities would be well served if their bylaws recognize the knowledgeable physicians certified through the rigorous standards of the ABPS.

To learn more about our mission to meet the healthcare needs of the public while promoting physician success in an evolving medical environment, contact the ABPS today.