From my experience last year, the recertification process itself seemed extravagant. (“College leaders give update on recertification,” March ACP-ASIM Observer, page 3.) It apparently required tremendous determination and creativity to develop and implement. It’s notable that at the same time, our leaders and professional organizations have not made similar effort to advocate the value and the importance of internists in our society. Such an effort would, I think, ultimately be of more value to internists and our patients than completing a Cadillac recertification process.
How striking that the lead article in the March Observer described internists leaving clinical practice for other careers.
Helene Goldsman, ACP-ASIM Member
Most institutions strive hard to preserve themselves. ABIM is no exception. With the number of internal medicine residencies dwindling, ABIM, whose only income is examination fees, realized that the future was bleak unless it did something to maintain a steady source of revenue. Therefore, it came up with the idea of time-limiting board certification so internists can continue to provide it income.
What if other institutions followed this example? High schools, law schools and engineering schools could all limit their diplomas to five or 10 years. After all, the sciences and arts are advancing very rapidly; what you learned five years ago is probably outdated by now.
ABIM’s attempt to enhance its revenue under the guise of the “maintenance of excellence” could be self-defeating. Board certified internists’ mass refusal to take the recertifying exams could lead to a separate category of internists calling themselves “formerly board certified” or “eligible to be recertified.” Some of them with clout might even persuade HMOs and hospitals that this is almost as good as being recertified.
I hope the ABIM realizes the legitimate concerns of the vast majority of practicing internists, comes down from its ivory tower to face reality and curbs its desire to enhance revenue.
Mohamed Ziauddin, ACP-ASIM Member
It’s ironic that the March 2001 ACP-ASIM Observer contains an article about recertification and a feature story about strategies for physicians to overcome burnout. Practicing physicians are already overwhelmed just trying to see patients, manage their practices and keep their knowledge and skills current. They do not have the time or energy to complete the onerous recertification process proposed.
Certainly, recertification pressures are a result of managed care’s threat to endorse only certified physicians for their panels as a way of presenting a glittering package to their customers. Hospitals also look at certification status when credentialing and granting privileges. However, our own profession created the recertification methodology and the process is not beyond our control.
I implore ACP-ASIM to come to the rescue of internal medicine and help modify the proposed recertification process. The future of our profession is at stake.
Douglas F. Turtzo, ACP-ASIM Member
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