What State Legislators Need to Know About  Physician Board Certification Advertising

Physician board certification is one tool hospitals and healthcare systems use to advance patient safety and quality of care. But, this benefit is under threat by recent legislative bills regarding truth in advertising.

Proposed Guidelines Misleading

Capitol Buildings in Tallahassee, FloridaOver the past four years, there has been a rigorous push for new laws which would limit highly qualified physicians certified by the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) from advertising as board-certified. Under most current laws, physicians are prohibited from intentionally misleading the public with their advertising. For instance, a doctor who is board- certified in family medicine cannot advertise himself or herself as board certified when only practicing dermatology.

Many proposed laws limit a physician’s ability to advertise as board-certified and will only allow them to state so, if the certifying body is an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) board. This means that physicians certified by ABPS, a nationally recognized board, or other credible organizations, would be required to also have certification through the ABMS. Only then would they be allowed to advertise themselves as a board-certified physician. As written, these new rules discriminate against otherwise qualified physicians, limiting the public’s ability regarding physician choice. In addition, legislators unintentionally are creating a monopoly.

Proponents believe the new rules are necessary to protect the public. In actuality, they are profoundly misleading because they effectively predicate that a certifying organization’s legitimacy is based on whether it is a member board of the ABMS. To put it in plain terms, the only way you could drive your Ford is if you also buy a Chevy.

Clearly, the proposed laws are designed to stifle competition. ABPS maintains that the ABMS is driving legislation that produces a monopoly. It’s a case of regulatory capture in which the ABMS has lassoed policy makers, legislators, and other regulatory agencies into creating regulations that will further ABMS’ own ends. We encourage legislators to act against these blatantly prohibitive self-serving proposed laws by ensuring ABPS physicians are included in advertising legislation or by opposing bills that specifically exclude them.

Healthy Competition

ABPS believes that fair competition in the healthcare industry leads to innovation and advancements, all for the betterment of patient care. We proudly maintain a spirit of inclusion that not only broadens career opportunities for talented and dedicated physicians, but also enhances the credentials of medical organizations while improving patient confidence and safety.

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Patient Care Is Our Priority

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

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine