VA Physician Shortage Exacerbated by Physician Board Certification Politics

VA PhysiciansThe quality of health care provided to America’s veterans is in jeopardy because of a shortage of physicians working for Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and for other institutions associated with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). The fact that there are more than 1,400 unfilled positions in the nation’s VA health system parallels the overall physician shortage crisis nationwide. However, there is one additional barrier to a potential remedy for the VA hospital shortage. Even after two decades of political wrangling, hiring practices at the VA still are not influenced by a formal, written policy intended to recognize physician board certification through the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

Many ABPS physicians are veterans and wish to work for VA institutions. However, the only multi-specialty board certifying bodies currently recognized for hiring purposes by the VA are the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). This arbitrary road block to better health care for America’s veterans would be remedied if the VA institutions joined the CMS and the G.I. Bill in accepting ABPS physician board certification.

There are a number of reasons why physicians who chose to join the ABPS rather than the ABMS or AOA are locked out of the VA hiring process – or ostracized on those rare occasions when they are hired by VA institutions. To start with, the advisors to the DVA all hold leadership positions with the ABMS. This is a clear conflict of interest, because the ABMS naturally wishes to maintain a controlling position when it comes to who can and cannot be hired at VA institutions. Yet, there is no legitimate reason to exclude ABPS physicians from eligibility for these positions. In fact, as America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the current shortage of VA physicians will become exacerbated with an influx of veterans who need and deserve the best possible health care.

That is what the ABPS and its Member Boards have stood for since the organization’s inception in 1960. Physicians who achieve board certification through ABPS Member Boards are eminently qualified to fill with distinction positions with any health care organization, including the nation’s VA institutions. ABPS physicians practice in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Our clinically based written, oral, and simulation exams are developed using the most rigorous standards for measuring the knowledge and skill set required to provide the best patient care available. All ABPS physicians must adhere to the organization’s Medical Code of Ethics, and eligibility requirements for board certification are as stringent as any board certifying body.

To learn more about how the ABPS could help mitigate the physician shortage in VA hospitals and make sure our veterans receive the medical care they have earned, contact us today. The ABPS is the official board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.

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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