American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®


College leaders renew their focus on recertification

From the March ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2002 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

By Phyllis Maguire

College leaders will soon redouble their efforts to find a solution to the contentious issue of recertification.

During the past six months, ACP-ASIM representatives have met with members of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to try to resolve differences over ABIM's proposed Continuous Professional Development (CPD) recertification program.

"Our members strongly support the concept of lifelong learning as a fundamental professional responsibility," said ACP-ASIM President William J. Hall, FACP. "But learning styles vary tremendously and a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to learning and continued certification is not in our patients' best interests. These underlying principles will form the basis of our upcoming discussions."

Recertification debateAt last year's Annual Session, internists debate recertification. At this year's meeting, both the Governors and Regents will hold special meetings on the issue.




During meetings before this year's Annual Session, the College's Board of Regents and Board of Governors will focus on the issue and on possible resolutions to differences with the ABIM. The Regents had hoped to get input on recertification from the Governors after their meeting last fall, but the event was canceled in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

As part of their meeting before Annual Session, the Governors will hold a special reference committee meeting to discuss recertification resolutions that different College chapters have put forward. Before the meeting, Bernard M. Rosof, FACP, Chair of the Board of Regents, and Lynne M. Kirk, FACP, Chair of the Board of Governors, will update the Governors on negotiations with the ABIM. Dr. Rosof and Dr. Kirk are members of the College's negotiating team.

"We're setting aside time for a forum to discuss ways to address members' concerns," Dr. Kirk said.

The Governors will also hold a special business meeting to review the reference committee's report on recertification resolutions, which will be forwarded to the Regents. The Regents have rearranged their meeting schedule so they can immediately review the Governors' recommendations.

At press time, the College was also preparing to put recertification at the center of its Leadership Retreat scheduled for late February. (The ACP-ASIM Executive Committee, which includes the Chair and the Chair-Elect of the Board of Governors, attends the College retreat.) Walter J. McDonald, FACP, the College's Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, said that College leaders would spend two of their three days together discussing recertification.

"We need that time to focus on how to resolve this dispute to the satisfaction of members, the College and the ABIM," Dr. McDonald explained. "We want to lay out all the factors involved and look at all scenarios."

In addition, the College's Education Committee is also engaged in efforts that may help guide the College's recertification negotiations. The committee is drawing up a set of principles to define the relationship of education and evaluation to maintaining competence over the course of a career in internal medicine.

"We hope these principles will serve as a compass to guide discussions and resolutions the College develops in areas such as recertification, though not necessarily limited to that," said Herbert S. Waxman, FACP, the College's Senior Vice President for Education. The principles are slated to be discussed by the Board of Regents at its meeting in April.

ACP-ASIM remains committed to the concept of periodic recertification and a secure examination of medical knowledge. College representatives began talks with ABIM in October 2000 to try to address members' complaints about the recertification process, as well as the College's reservations about the ABIM's newly launched CPD program. (For more on CPD, see

Dr. Rosof pointed out that the negotiations have made some progress. "We have articulated members' concerns and have achieved some modifications to the originally proposed CPD process," he said. "We now need the Governors' input to decide what is best for internal medicine and the profession."


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