June 2022 – Summer Edition
Soon after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mississippi's challenge to the constitutionality of federal protections for abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the ABFM Board of Directors asked us to release the following statement:
In light of this decision, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) Board of Directors strongly endorses the American Board of Medical Specialties statement on Legislative Interference in Medical Education, Training, and Practice., as well as the statement issued by The American Academy of Family Physicians regarding this ruling. As a certifying board that serves over 100,000 family physicians in the U.S., we recognize the commitment they make each day to provide optimal health care for all patients they serve. We stand by the need for these physicians to be able to deliver safe and accessible reproductive health services to women, retain the ability to receive adequate training to provide this care, and to support the need to preserve the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship in addressing personal medical issues. Read Full Statement.
As the authors of Dobbs intended, the country is now engaged in a passionate, national debate about the whether, when, and how of abortion. The ABFM does not advocate in legislatures but in this case, we are bound to weigh in on the public dialogue about issues that are critical from the perspective of Board Certification: safety, training opportunities, and against criminalization of doctors’ private conversations with their patients. We stand by your efforts to meet the Institute of Medicine aims of providing care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.
Ensuring the Value of Certification in a Turbulent Time
As I reflect on this day in June two years ago, I think about all that we have seen transpire. Hearing the stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives, our families, and our colleagues is truly humbling.
Despite the extraordinary and difficult challenges that we have faced as a family medicine community, I’ve witnessed amazing courage and stamina of individual family physicians and great progress within our specialty. Whether you’ve been a champion of change in your practice, adapted at home with your family, or been out and about supporting your own community, I’m proud to be a colleague of such dedicated and compassionate family physicians.
In November 2021, the American Board of Medicine Specialties announced the new and approved Continuing Certification Standards. One key element is the focus on improving the Value of continuing certification to physicians, their patients, and the public. So how do we think about our work in terms of continuously improving the value of certification? At ABFM, we think daily about how to ensure that the process in which you engage for your certification, and its associated activities, are meaningful, relevant to practice, and that your time is used efficiently and wisely.
We have continued to make changes aimed at improving the value of certification in the first half of 2022. In this Phoenix, I’m pleased to share some of the highlights with you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or comments.
Thank you for all you do.
Warren Newton, MD, MPH
President and CEO
American Board of Family Medicine
ABFM Welcomes New Board Members and Officers
We are pleased to announce the election of four new officers and three new board members. The new officers elected at ABFM’s spring board meeting in April are: Lauren S. Hughes, MD, MPH, MSc, FAAFP, of Aurora, Colorado as Chair; Gerardo Moreno, MD, of Los Angeles, California as Chair-Elect; Daniel Spogen, MD, of Reno, Nevada as Treasurer; and Bob Wergin, MD, of Milford, Nebraska as Member-at-Large of the Executive Committee. In addition, ABFM welcomes this year’s new members to the Board of Directors: Christine Hancock, MD, of Bellingham, Washington; Saby Karuppiah, MD, of Overland Park, Kansas; and Anna R. Kuo, MD, of Atlanta, Georgia. The new board members will each serve a five-year term. Full biographies of the new Board members and officers can be found here.
Study Summarizes the Rationale and Purpose of Continuing Certification
As certifying boards continue to evolve their certification programs to focus on more frequent, learner-engaged assessments, a recently published comprehensive report synthesizes findings from over 600 studies to describe the foundational evidence behind the need for continuous certification. ABFM partnered with the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Medical Specialties, and faculty from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychology to synthesize the evidence that supports the need for the continuing assessment of physicians’ clinical knowledge. The report, entitled Conceptual Foundations for Designing Continuing Certification Assessments for Physicians, reveals four central themes and supports the move to a model of longitudinal assessment.
- Cognitive Skills Need to Be Kept Current
Family physicians often ask why they need board certification, and why it’s necessary to take an exam instead of self-monitoring. The evidence is clear that with the explosion of new clinical knowledge and approaches to care and the natural decline in cognitive skills that occur over time, constant vigilance with lifelong learning is necessary for physicians to remain current and to provide the highest quality of evidence-based care.
- Individual Self-Assessment Is Not Enough
Abundant evidence confirms that physicians often don’t know what they don’t know, and that they overestimate retention of information learned. This forms the basis for the need for more structured and formalized ways for physicians to identify their knowledge gaps in order to plan CME and other forms of self-study that include appropriate attention to closing knowledge gaps. This is where ABFM self-assessment activities, such as KSAs, CKSAs, and the National Journal Club come into the equation as providing that mechanism for knowledge assessment and targeted ways to address knowledge deficits.
- Testing Enhances Learning and Retention
While not often popular, testing has been well demonstrated to be a powerful device for learning and retaining cognitive knowledge. Not always appreciated is the fact that testing also supports application of complex problem solving, as well as enhances the practice of retrieval from memory. These outcomes are boosted by having tests spaced over time. Across all adult learning, longitudinal assessment has been shown to result in greater retention of knowledge as compared to the rote memorization that often precedes one-day examinations spaced 10 years apart. ABFM’s new longitudinal assessment alternative to the one-day exam also supports “learning while testing.”
- Goals and Consequences Motivate
Finally, research has found that physicians learn and retain more when they know they will be tested. The expectation that physicians will be required to periodically demonstrate their cognitive expertise over the course of their career increases their motivation to study and update their knowledge competency over time.
In 2019, the Vision for the Future of Certification Commission defined expectations for a specialty credential on which the public can depend. Two foundational changes were recommended: intention to ensure that certification provides value to Diplomates, patients, and others; and recognition that professional self-regulation is a collective responsibility requiring collaboration among multiple organizations. The newly revised ABMS Standards for Continuing Certification build on the findings highlighted in this report, as well as the recommendations from the Vision Commission, to develop a set of changes expected of all certifying boards that seek to enhance the value of the process for continuously certifying physicians. To learn more about this and other research from ABFM, visit our research website.
National Journal Club Becomes Enduring Self-Assessment Activity, Adds 45+ New Articles
Thanks to positive feedback from physicians like you, ABFM has upgraded the National Journal Club (NJC) pilot to an enduring self-assessment activity! NJC allows you to download and read the latest evidence-based articles to meet your certification requirements, or simply for your ongoing learning. The NJC articles are selected from over 120 journals on the basis of relevance to family medicine, potential to change practice and quality of evidence by a committee of family physicians from diverse clinical backgrounds with expertise in evidence-based medicine (read more in JABFM).
More than 45 new articles are provided twice a year for you to choose from, allowing you to make the activity fit your own interests and needs. After you read each article, you will answer four brief questions to earn points toward your certification requirements in Self-Assessment and Lifelong Learning, as well as receive CME credit. Access ABFM’s National Journal Club here. If you need assistance logging in or have questions related to this activity, contact our ABFM Support Center at 877-223-7437 or [email protected]. To learn more about the development of NJC and the experience of the physicians involved, read our Diplomate Perspectives article.
New – Care of Women KSA Now Available
ABFM is proud to announce the new Care of Women KSA which combines updated content from the Maternity Care and Women's Health KSA activities, with single-best-answer questions, and updated critiques and references. This new KSA is designed for any family physician who sees women in their practice, not just those who provide prenatal or maternity care. It is available by logging into your MyABFM Portfolio and completion will fulfill your minimum self-assessment credit and provide you with 10 certification activity points towards your 50-point requirement, as well as CME credit.
Physicians who are currently enrolled in either the Maternity Care KSA or the Women's Health KSA may still complete their in-progress KSA before it is retired from the portfolio on October 31, 2022. Visit your MyABFM Portfolio to get started! Learn more about how two ABFM Diplomates helped to develop this KSA in our Diplomate Perspectives article.
New Options for PI Activity Credit
Population Health PI Activity is now available!
We’re excited to announce the launch of a new Performance Improvement (PI) activity using the Population Health Assessment Engine (PHATE™). PHATE is a population health tool commissioned by ABFM and developed in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES) at the University of Missouri. Using PHATE, physicians and their staff can gain a greater understanding of communities in which their patients live and deepen their understanding of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Use of the PHATE tool can help practices expand their ability to assess varied health outcomes and illness experiences through a geographic lens and apply this to helping their patients and communities. This activity is available now in your MyABFM Portfolio and provides PI activity credit for participating physicians.
Dual Opportunity for Physicians Participating in the PRIME Registry! Choose from “Registry Favorites” for MIPS Improvement Activities and Earn ABFM PI Activity Credit
ABFM Diplomates who use the PRIME Registry Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) dashboard to submit their data for that payment model can now choose from a list of ‘Registry Favorites” in the Improvement Activities (IA) category and use that activity for both MIPS and ABFM certification points. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) improvement activities should be submitted as Self-Directed activities.
Check out the guide to self-directed PI activities and the PHATE PI activity here.
Want to Know What Your Peers are Doing? Check out the new Stories of Family Medicine Series!
ABFM is dedicated to sharing the stories of Diplomates and residents as they work to improve their practice, care for their patients, support their communities, and identify unique ways to meet their certification requirement. That’s why we recently introduced two new article categories: Health Equity in Action and Diplomate Perspectives. An initial set of 10 articles have been published and we have more on the way! To visit our article archive, visit Stories of Family Medicine.
Our latest articles include:
- Building the Care of Women KSA: Learn how the latest KSA came together with interviews from two of its volunteer contributors.
- Introducing Dr. Lauren Hughes: ABFM profiled its newest Board Chair to share her background and goals for the next 12 months
Health Equity In Action
- Community Focus on Improving Health Inequities in Latinx Population Leads to an Increase in COVID-19 Vaccinations: Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi Addresses a Need in North Carolina
- ED Patients Find Medical Home with Help from ABFM Diplomate - Jacob Marshall, MD: Familiarizing Patients with Health Care Outside of the Emergency Room
Want to Learn More About the Center for Professionalism & Value in Health Care?
The ways in which health care professionals are currently measured and valued often work against the behaviors and relationships that patients want and expect from their providers. The Center for Professionalism & Value in Health Care (CPV) was established to study relationships between professionalism and value, promote their alignment, recommend ways to reduce burden, and better support outcome and quality improvement. Their goal is to align how the professions are valued with the values of the professions. Visit the website to learn more about their recent work and findings.