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    Newsletter Winter 2012

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012  A Message from the President

    Since its inception in 1969, the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) has been a leading innovator within the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). It was the first ABMS board to issue time-limited certificates and to require periodic recertification. It was also the first board to develop mandatory continuing medical education requirements. Among its many other ‘firsts’ were the use of a computerized office record review to assay the quality of care delivered by Diplomates, the use of criterion-based passing standards for its exams, and the use of simulation to assess Diplomates’ ability to manage clinical encounters. These innovations did not happen by accident, but rather were the result of strategic investments made by the ABFM to further advance the validity of the certificates that it issues to boardcertified family physicians. More... 

    The Winter 2012 edition of The Phoenix is now available.


    MC-FP and Sports Medicine Exam Results

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012  The examination results for the MC-FP and Sports Medicine exams taken in November will available on the ABFM website beginning December 21, 2012. Diplomates can access their exam results by logging into their Physician Portfolio and clicking on the Exam Results link.


    Hospital Medicine SAM Now Available

    Thursday, December 6, 2012  The ABFM is pleased to announce the launch of a new Self-Assessment Modules (SAM) in Hospital Medicine, now available online. A SAM consists of the 60-question Knowledge Assessment and the Clinical Simulation (ClinSim). To view available SAM health topics, log in to the Physician Portfolio, select Track Your Progress and then select Access Modules.


    Newsletter Summer 2012

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012  A Message from the President

    When we originally conceptualized and created Maintenance of Certifi cation for Family Physicians (MC-FP) in 2003, we did so with the commitment that we would rigorously study the impact that it had on the care that family physicians delivered. While the ABFM had obviously conducted and published previous research on its examination, it did not possess the infrastructure nor the resources to support a “research shop” capable of the day-to-day work that would make this commitment a reality. Th erefore, as part of its strategic planning process in 2005 and 2006, our Board of Directors made a strategic commitment that research would become part of the ethos of the ABFM and would be supported with the necessary fi nancial and human resources to make it a successful undertaking. More... 

    The Summer 2012 edition of The Phoenix is now available.


    ABFM Elects New Officers and Board Members

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012  The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is pleased to announce the election of four new officers and four new board members.  The new officers elected at the ABFM’s spring board meeting in April are:  Samuel Jones, MD of Fairfax, Virginia, elected as Chair; Diane K.  Beebe, MD of Jackson, Mississippi as Chair Elect; Michael G. Workings, MD of Detroit, Michigan as Treasurer; and Erika Bliss, MD of Seattle, Washington as Member-at-Large, Executive Committee.  In addition, the ABFM welcomes this year’s new members to the Board of Directors: Christine C. Matson, MD of Norfolk, Virginia; David W. Mercer, MD of Omaha, Nebraska; Marcia J. Nielsen, PhD, MPH of Lawrence, Kansas; and Keith L. Stelter, MD of Mankato, Minnesota. For more information, click here.


    Board Eligibility—Past and Future

    Thursday, March 29, 2012  The term ‘board eligible’ has never been recognized by member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), including the ABFM, but the term continues to be used by credentialing organizations and others to recognize non-certified physicians as having equivalent status. The abuse of the board eligible term and status perpetuated the ability of poorly qualified physicians to practice outside of their initial certification with a risk to patients and resulted in a lack of relationship between the initial certifying examination and training as a concurrent/synergistic measure of physician competency.


    The ABFM Examination and Exam Security

    Thursday, January 12, 2012  

    The ABFM seeks to provide assurance to the public that certified family physicians possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to provide quality care to the individual, family and community through commitment to professional standing, lifelong learning, and continued competency in the specialty of Family Medicine.

    After a long demanding path of medical education and residency training, the certifying process demonstrates that physicians are competent to provide care to their patients and their communities. Once certified, physicians must participate in an ongoing continuous process of professional development known as Maintenance of Certification.

    Certification is a voluntary process that permits physicians in a particular medical specialty to hold out to the public an independent attestation that they have achieved a recognized level of professional excellence.  Passing a standardized test is only part of the process of becoming certified.  The other required components are providing evidence of professional standing, a commitment to lifelong learning, and evaluation of the physician’s performance in practice

    Many individuals in the general public are curious about the actual examination. Certification and Recertification candidates take the same examination, which is a test of medical knowledge and problem-solving ability relevant to Family Medicine. Questions include, but are not limited to, those involving diagnosis, management, and prevention of illness. Candidates must satisfactorily meet the requirements of application, including appropriate training, medical licensure, and continuing medical education, before being approved to take the examination.

    The ABFM takes the examination and examination security very seriously.  The examination is developed by a hand-picked group of family physicians around the United States.  These physicians are bound by confidentiality agreements.  Furthermore, anyone who has been involved in the crafting of the examination is not allowed to test in that year.  Examination questions themselves are legally protected through US Copyright laws. A small percentage of questions may be re-used in later years.  All questions are reviewed using statistical techniques to determine if the question is still valid.

    At the test center, ABFM’s test provider, Prometric, requires a photo ID and collects biometrics before the examinee is permitted to enter the testing room. Physicians are not allowed to take any items into or out of the examination room. Prometric also uses metal detectors before physicians are allowed to enter the testing room.  The examination is proctored by staff on site and the entire testing session is digitally recorded.  In addition to using reports from the proctors and information from the ABFM “tip line,” ABFM uses internet searches and statistical techniques to identify unusual examination performance patterns. The specifics of these techniques are considered confidential.

    A physician who takes the examination is required to agree to the conditions of the test, both at the time of application and just before taking the test. These conditions include not reproducing the test items or transmitting them to other people for any reason.  This agreement also describes the security conditions in place at the test center and what constitutes prohibited behavior.  In general, ABFM has not found pervasive patterns of irregular behavior related to the examination. Much of this is related to the deterrence effect of our security measures.  Another reason is that if other physicians knew of an attempt to subvert the examination, they would be likely to report it because it would devalue the credential that they worked hard to achieve.

    The ABFM does provide general study tips and suggestions to prepare for the examination. Included in these study materials are old (public domain) questions that will not be used on the examination at any time.  While this is a suboptimal means of studying, physicians often use these questions to test themselves on certain subject areas.  Additionally, other external organizations provide “test preparation” classes for physicians. The ABFM routinely monitors these external organizations to screen for any irregularities.

    The ABFM has always required its board-certified family physicians to recertify. Since its founding in 1969, all family physicians must take the examination every 7 – 10 years to maintain certification.  In addition, every board-certified family physician is participating in the Maintenance of Certification process.  Failure to participate in this process will lead to loss of certification status.