ABIM: Time to heal thyself
Since 1936, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) has been a respectable and credible organization; one that I believed in and supported. I am proud to be board certified in Internal Medicine. Certification was a milestone in my career as I felt I had reached a level of excellence that set me apart from other physicians. It means something to my patients, as well as my colleagues, and it gives them some assurance that I am board certified by an independent organization.
ABIM certification is supposed to be the highest standard in internal medicine and its subspecialties. It means that internists have demonstrated—to their peers and to the public—that they have the clinical judgment, skills, and attitudes essential for the delivery of excellent patient care.
My credentials are important to me and although I don’t plan to retire any time soon, I refuse to sit for another ABIM recertification exam. Since January 2014, when the ABIM changed the maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements, it has wreaked havoc on a system that worked well for decades; and if I were to believe the articles that have appeared in Newsweek, the organization made the changes for its own financial gain, not for the advancement of medicine or patient care.
ABIM betrayed the trust of its constituents, ruined its stellar reputation, and turned its back on the values of the physicians that it serves. Over the last few months, ABIM has attacked Newsweek, sent out a letter of apology to physicians, backpedaled on its MOC requirements, and more-or-less tried to justify its actions.
Instead of doing the right thing by physicians, the board has intensified the sense of anger and frustration among its constituents by focusing time and attention on its own public relations debacle. It has failed to work on solving the deep-rooted issues created among physicians regarding certification. As a result, there are now calls to abolish ABIM and MOC.