The Phoenix — New and Improved for 2021

We’re excited to share with you a new and improved design for The Phoenix. Based on recent feedback and comments from you, we set out to reformat the newsletter as a specific page on our website so that it’s easier for you to read, whether on mobile or desktop. Now you can view articles on each page, refer back to an article at a later time, search, and even share with your colleagues. We hope these improvements are helpful and that you are able to find relevant information faster so you can stay up to date on all things related to board certification and more! We look forward to your feedback on the new design.

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March 2021

One of the major goals of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is to increase the value of board certification for individual Diplomates. To do this requires understanding the needs and preferences of family physicians participating in certification—which is why we have worked so hard in recent years to create more opportunities for listening and sharing. We occasionally hear Diplomates express their belief that we are developing the process, writing the examination and assessment items, and creating the activities for certification all inside of a small office in Lexington, Kentucky.

Each of our major initiatives to improve the value of board certification—the Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA), enhancing item development, revising the Performance Improvement (PI) activity design, the upgrading of Knowledge Self-Assessments (KSAs), and more—has been shaped by Diplomate feedback and involvement. READ MORE

On February 18, 2021, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) lost a cherished friend and team member. Luther Wilcoxson served for 14 years as the Day Porter of the building where the ABFM offices reside. Luther was a tireless worker who not only kept our facilities spotless and well cared for, but who made sure each staff member he encountered throughout the day was greeted with respect and kindness. As with all things team related, “little things matter” and Luther did not pass on any job, no matter how big or small. READ MORE

The longest active groups of American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) volunteers are a group of family physicians who serve as item writers and reviewers for ABFM examinations. On average, 40 family physicians serve as item writers, and an additional 20 serve on the committee that reviews the certification exam draft. Additionally, ABFM benefits from the volunteer efforts of 10 current or recent program directors who review its annual In-Training exam draft. READ MORE

Since the start of the pandemic, over 500,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19 in the United States alone. The global death toll has reached over 2 million. Health care workers have played a crucial role in caring for their patients and communities, putting their lives at risk as they serve on the front lines. A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that primary care physicians accounted for 26.9% of the mortality among all physicians through mid-May of 2020. READ MORE

Amid our current health care environment, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is working to ensure that certification remains just as valuable today as it was 50 years ago when ABFM was founded. In 2019, the ABFM Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan which included a goal to support diplomates and their practices across their career. The board members have been actively engaged in suggesting and developing ideas to achieve the tenets of the strategic plan. Towards this end, I proposed that the board adopt a new practice of hosting a reception to visit with Diplomates in the various locations where Board meetings occur twice a year. The idea was welcomed by the Board leadership and first piloted in October 2020.

The idea was originally conceived as a reception for local Diplomates, possibly accompanied by a visit to a local health care facility or office. The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges to this plan, but we were able to transition to a virtual format for the October and February meetings which were scheduled to occur in Washington, DC and Tucson, AZ. READ MORE

In less than two months, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) will release a redesigned Physician Portfolio. Designed for physicians, by physicians, this major redesign effort has been a strategic priority since late 2019. “We embarked on this initiative with one goal in mind—to improve the Diplomate’s experience with the Physician Portfolio by providing a personalized experience that is user friendly, visually appealing, and easy to navigate, regardless of how they access the site,” said Kevin Rode, Vice President of Operations at ABFM. READ MORE

Since the inception of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) Engagement Network in June 2019, volunteer Diplomates have provided valuable feedback and insights on a variety of topics and issues aimed at improving the Family Medicine Certification process. From improving how we communicate with physicians, to suggesting new self-assessment and performance improvement activities and participating in focus groups, the Engagement Network continues to be a strategic focus for ABFM to continuously connect with, and support, Diplomates in their certification efforts over time. READ MORE

“I saw this as an opportunity to help physicians continue to grow as the best clinicians they could be. I was impressed with ABFM’s commitment to ensuring a high-quality learning experience in Asthma that was both relevant and up-to-date.”
—Kurt Elward, MD, MPH

As part of the American Board of Family Medicine’s (ABFM) efforts to continually improve the activities provided to Diplomates, residents and candidates for certification, we have focused over the past year on a major upgrade of the popular Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) activities that are utilized by an average of 40,000 family physicians annually. As part of this KSA upgrade, all items are being converted to single-best answer questions (eliminating the multiple True/False choices); the evidence, including critiques and references, is being updated; the passing standard of 80% now applies to the KSA as a whole, rather than being a requirement for every individual content category; and, the KSA platform has been substantially improved for a better user experience. READ MORE

Beyond working with individual Diplomates serving as item writers or content experts, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has recently collaborated with the Wisconsin-based Interstate Postgraduate Medical Association (IPMA) to develop a new Knowledge Self-Assessment (KSA) on Palliative Care, which was deployed in the Physician Portfolio in 2020. The ABFM Board of Directors selected this topic as a new area to include in the self-assessment activities, and had prior experience working with IPMA through their sponsorship of group KSAs since 2008. READ MORE

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is excited to announce the launch of its new National Journal Club pilot in the summer of 2021. This will be an additional option for Diplomates to receive Self-Assessment activity credit and will not require payment beyond the annual certification process fee. The ABFM National Journal Club will provide approximately 100 articles annually for Diplomates and residents to utilize as a way to keep up with contemporary, practice-changing evidence. READ MORE
Despite renewed interest in strengthening primary care in the United States in recent years, there remains an inadequate understanding of what primary care is and does, insufficient investment in its infrastructure and growth, inadequacy in its workforce numbers and distribution, and inefficient coordination with other sectors. In an effort to fill some of the gaps in knowledge by offering a snapshot of the facts and figures that make up contemporary U.S. Primary Care, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) collaborated with the American Academy of Family Physicians Robert Graham Center and IBM Watson Health to create a recently published chartbook, Primary Care in the United States: A Chartbook of Facts & Statistics. READ MORE
While the scope and impact of its work continues to grow, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) research department considers the evaluation of Family Medicine Certification (FMC) its top priority, from tracking participation over time; assessing choice of, and satisfaction with, specific activities; measuring changes in care from completing specific FMC activities; and updating foundational knowledge of certification. Described below are some important examples of research studies related to board certification. READ MORE
As part of the KSA revision initiative, a new American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM)-developed Health Counseling and Preventive Care KSA was released February 25, 2021. This new activity is a combination of the previous Health Behavior and Preventive Care KSA activities and includes updated critiques and references. This activity provides 60 single best answer questions that focus on management of nutrition, sexual health, exercise, smoking avoidance and cessation, substance abuse, cancer screening, screening for medical conditions, chemoprevention, and immunizations. This transition is part of ABFM’s commitment to continual improvement of the activities used in Family Medicine Certification.
Deadline to Select Testing Date/Location March 15
Spring Examination Dates April 6-10, 12-17, 19-24, 26-30; May 1, 3 & 4
Examination Results (Tentative) June 11