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.

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Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

Board certification through the American Board of Physician Specialties has served to substantiate my interest and additional training in several fields of medicine including Internal Medicine, Disaster Medicine, and Administrative Medicine. As a result, I have been able to serve my community in clinical, disaster response, and administrative medicine roles. Through the ABPS, I have become recognized as a leader in my various fields of interest.

Spencer Price MD, MPH, MBA
Internal Medicine, Disaster Medicine, Administrative Medicine
BCEM certification through ABPS has provided me with many opportunities. It has helped me demonstrate that I have special experience and expertise in Emergency Medicine beyond that obtained through my family medicine training. BCEM certification firmly established me as an emergency medicine specialist once I started working in emergency medicine full time. ABPS has also helped me network with other family physicians with a passion for improving rural and underserved emergency medicine practice.

Alex Beuning, MD, FAAEP
Emergency Medicine
Personal challenge and motivation compelled me to pass my ABPS board exam. Measurement and confirmation of my own knowledge base reinforced my self-confidence. The ABPS, with its history of inclusivity, has allowed me to have a voice in the organization, while permitting me to impact overall national patient safety and care through certification. Participation in exam development afforded me the opportunity to witness the rigorousness of the exam process and psychometrically sound product, while developing meaningful collegiality, professional life enrichment, and warding off burn out.

Elizabeth Maxwell-Schmidt MD, FAAEP, FACEP
Emergency Medicine