Validation of ABFM's Family Medicine Certification Examination Test Plan
Standardized examinations help to assure the public that individuals entering a profession have the medical knowledge needed to provide professional services in that field. Since its founding in 1969, the American Board of Family Medicine has conducted several validity studies to verify that the content of the Family Medicine Certification Examination (FMCE) is representative of the specialty's ever-evolving scope of practice.
New research from ABFM found that the current FMCE content category proportions continue to represent the scope of practice for family physicians in the United States regarding frequency and types of patient encounters and, to a lesser extent, the criticality of correctly diagnosing and treating the condition. Researchers suggest that rarely seen conditions with a high criticality should be given more weight than a more commonly seen yet low criticality condition. Considerations for what the test is intended to measure should direct the weighing schema. Researchers noted that this discrepancy points out the tension between the examination covering a wide breadth of clinical conditions seen in family medicine and those aspects that are critical to diagnose and treat correctly the first time.