The archaic way of taking tests in medicine as perpetuated by the ABIM needs to stop and physicians need to just say no to this process. There is no objective evidence that board examinations are indicators of clinical competence especially in the age where access to information is omnipresent.
Graduating college, surviving medical school, completing residency and frequently advanced fellowship training and then taking board examinations should be enough. Ongoing medical education occurs on a daily basis for those in clinical and academic medicine and our patient’s outcomes tell a bigger story of our competence versus a uni-dimensional spot check in time where it is a guessing game of trying to figure out what the writer of the question is really asking. Often the questions are geared toward someone who just finished residency than a physician who has practiced for 20 years.
I am all in for ongoing education through journals, courses, and even online modules that allow you to dive into the answers in real time. That can help with patient care. However, studying for another board exam takes tremendous time away from your practice and your family. That is time you cannot ever get back.
If there is going to be any kind of testing beyond continuing medical education in whatever form you choose, including home based modules then it needs to be a home based, timed test. In my opinion, a test of this nature should have a 98% pass rate. What does an 80% recertification pass rate really mean in internal medicine? Are 20% of physicians incompetent? Are their patients suffering because of their care?
Stop testing us to death. We are already getting killed with reimbursement, the increasing complexity of diseases, government paperwork, electronic medical records, meaningful use and everything else that takes us away from the real reason we are doctors. Our patients.
Corey Howard, MD, FACP