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Our Perspective on Inclusive Bylaws

Our Perspective on Inclusive BylawsA few years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor recognized the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) as an option for physician board certification. Until then, only the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) were listed as certifying bodies. Fortunately, more medical staff bylaws are being revised to include the ABPS.

Jeff Morris, J.D., executive of the ABPS, attributes this to more of the country’s leadership seeking the ABPS’s guidance on physician care issues and more medical staff services departments turning to the ABPS as their physicians look for certification or recertification options.

Still, in our current era of primary source verification requirements, negligent credentialing cases, and electronic credentialing programs, medical staffs rarely grant exceptions to physicians who don’t meet the certification requirements in the organization’s bylaws. As a result, many experienced and qualified physicians are denied staff privileges, depriving patients from receiving the excellent medical care that these professionals provide.

“In seeking qualified physicians, hospitals should not discriminate against physicians who chose to be certified by ABPS instead of the more well-known ABMS boards,” Morris says.

He compares organizations’ restrictive bylaws to the discriminatory approach toward DOs in the 1970s, when most bylaws wouldn’t accept DOs as physicians. But as the definition of what a physician is has changed, so have medical staff bylaws. If we assume that organizations write bylaws to attract physicians who are among the finest in their chosen specialties, then it would make sense that bylaws should be more inclusive, as that would provide more opportunities to hire skilled and knowledgeable practitioners.

One way to get medical staffs to change their bylaws, Morris says, is by pointing out that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Handbook now includes ABPS as a board certification option.

“What we are asking bylaws to do is get current with the current standard,” Morris says.

Contact the ABPS to learn more about how medical organizations across the United States would be well-served if their medical staff bylaws recognized the highly qualified and comprehensively skilled physicians certified through the ABPS. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certification body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®