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The american board of internal medicine recertification program in rheumatology.

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ARTHRITIS & RHEUMATISM
Vol. 38, No. 8, August 1995, p 1169
0 1995, American College of Rheumatology
1169
THE AMERICAN BOARD OF INTERNAL MEDICINE
RECERTIFICATION PROGRAM IN RHEUMATOLOGY
W. G. JOHANSON, ROLAND W. MOSKOWITZ, and LYNN 0. LANGDON
Patients deserve assurances about their physicians.
The great majority of rheumatologists who are certified by
the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) are competent physicians. However, the knowledge base of medicine is continually expanding, and rheumatologists, along
with other internists, have not been required to demonstrate
that they have kept up. The Board’s new recertification
program (Glassock RJ, Benson JA, Jr, Copeland RB, Godwin HA, Jr, Johanson WG Jr, Point W, Popp RL, Scherr L,
Stein JH, Taunton OD: Time-limited certification and recertification: the program of the American Board of Internal
Medicine. Ann Intern Med 1145942, 1991) provides a
mechanism for keeping pace with advances in rheumatology
and in the broad field of internal medicine. In fact, the goal
of recertification is to foster a lifetime of scholarship.
Unlike initial certification, recertification in rheumatology does not require recertification in internal medicine.
Certified rheumatologists can seek recertification in the
subspecialty only or in both internal medicine and rheumatology, depending on personal interest and the characteristics of their practice.
The recertification program consists of 3 components. The first component, clinical competency, will be
determined for most rheumatologists at the local level
through existing privileging and credentialing processes.
Special arrangements may be necessary for a few physicians
who do not practice in an environment where such processes
are required. The Self-Evaluation Process (SEP) is the
second component. SEP consists of a series of 60-question
test modules to be completed at home. These will be
“open-book” tests, and completion of them in study groups
or by other creative arrangements is encouraged. The SEP
modules will be available for general internal medicine and
all of the subspecialties and will include recent advances in
medicine, with emphasis on information that has been new in
the last 10 years or so. Participants will be able to select the
content of some of the SEP modules to focus their preparaW. G . Johanson, MD, Newark, NJ: Member, ABIM Recertification
Committee; Roland W. Moskowitz, MD, Cleveland, OH: Chair, ABIM
Subspecialty Board on Rheumatology; Lynn 0. Langdon, MS, Philadelphia,
PA: Vice President for Subspecialty Internal Medicine, ABIM.
ABIM Recertification Committee: Michael A. LaCombe, MD,
(Chair);Hugh Clark, MD; Janice G . Douglas, MD; William B. Galbraith, MD;
Harvey M. Golomb, MD; W. G . Johanson, MD; Harry R. Kimball, MD;
Richard F. LeBlond, MD; James L. Reinertsen, MD; Stephen I. Wasserman,
MD.
Submitted for publication May 2, 1955; accepted in revised form
May 29, 1995.
tion. After successfully completing 5 SEP modules the
candidate will be eligible for the last component of recertification, the final examination. This will be a secured,
proctored examination to maintain the credibility of the
recertification process.
The recertification process has created an opportunity for the ABIM to develop an entirely new, continuing
relationship with its diplomates. The Board will now communicate with all diplomates on a regular basis to keep them
informed about the recertification program. Many Boardcertified practicing rheumatologists are participating in the
development of the rheumatology recertification examinations. The ABIM has had great success with its “diplomategenerated item” project, in which practicing rheurnatologists
and other internists have been asked to contribute questions
appropriate for recertification in their field. This technique
for the generation of potential test questions will be continued. In addition, all examination questions will be reviewed
by practicing rheumatologists to be certain that the material
covered is relevant to the practice. The ABIM would welcome additional volunteers for these important tasks; if you
would like to contribute, please contact the Board.
For many years, an ABIM certificate was “good for
life.” But professional accountability and a commitment to
high-quality medical care have demanded periodic reevaluation through recertification by the Board. Board certificates
with 10-year validity were introduced for critical care medicine in 1987, for geriatric medicine in 1988, and for all
certificates, including rheumatology, in 1990. Diplomates
certified before 1990 have lifetime certificates, but the Board
believes that they should voluntarily hold themselves to the
same standard of continuing assessment as those more
recently certified. Those certified before 1990 are therefore
encouraged to participate in recertification. Their lifetime
certificates will not be at risk.
Registration for recertification opens in July 1995.
SEP modules will be available in October, and the final
examination will be offered annually beginning in 1996. Fees
for the first examination will be offered at a discount. Further
details can be obtained by contacting the Board.
This continuous recertification process ushers in a
new era for rheumatology, one in which patients can be
assured that a recertified rheumatologist has recently demonstrated continuing scholarship and clinical competency.
Patients deserve this commitment from the profession.
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