The ACR has been engaged in a measured, inclusive process with rheumatologists to determine if rheumatology board certification should move from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) to the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI), which would become a new, combined board of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology.
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“As ACR leaders have traveled around the country and listened to our members talk about issues affecting our profession, few issues have engendered as much impassioned debate as Maintenance of Certification [MOC],” says David I. Daikh, MD, PhD, immediate past president of the ACR, who has overseen efforts to explore potential changes in certification and to engage the entire rheumatology community in this important discussion. “The ACR Board of Directors has been committed to addressing concerns of the rheumatology community by working to facilitate discussions to identify the best possible option for the future.”
The ACR leadership has made comprehensive communication efforts to explain changes to certification being implemented by ABIM, and details about the feasibility, processes and implications of moving rheumatology certification and recertification to a new board.
The ACR engaged an independent research and consulting firm to develop and distribute an electronic survey to the rheumatologists. The survey was launched on June 19, 2018, and closed on July 10, 2018, with invitations to participate successfully delivered to more than 7,400 individual email addresses. Survey response and completion rates were above industry standard. The purpose of the survey was to provide an opportunity for rheumatologists to share their opinions, perceptions, uncertainties or concerns about a potential change to rheumatology board certification.
Key findings from the survey’s results include:
- Most rheumatologists plan to maintain ABIM certification in rheumatology, but not internal medicine;
- Nearly 70% of respondents are aware of ABIM’s Knowledge Check-In option, but many are unsure about whether they wish to pursue it;
- Most respondents are either satisfied with or neutral about ABIM initial certification; however, many are dissatisfied with ABIM maintenance of certification;
- Most respondents do not expect any major differences between ABIM and ABAI rheumatology initial certification programs; and
- Slightly more rheumatology specialists prefer to move certification to ABAI than to stay with ABIM.
What are the next steps in this process? The ACR is providing information to members about the 2019 ABIM rheumatology Knowledge Check-In assessment option. This no-consequence year offers rheumatologists an opportunity to evaluate this option.
The ACR leadership will also continue to work with ABAI to develop a detailed proposal addressing outstanding questions from rheumatologists about the formation of a combined board and will communicate the results of these discussions in the coming months.