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Letter: MOC's True Cost Higher than Reported

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000480776.16642.26
Letter

Editor:

The article, “EPs Invest Long Hours in MOC, Costing about $2600 a Year,” is woefully incomplete. (EMN 2015;37[11]:1; http://emn.online/Nov15MOC.) The table in the article, Costs and Time Commitments for ABEM Maintenance Certification, has a few holes.

  • Part I: What about the cost for CME to maintain professional standing and licensure?
  • Part II: The cost to get the articles for me is anywhere from $129-$149 annually, in addition to the cost of taking the tests online and the cost for Internet access ($39/month).
  • Part III: What about the cost for exam preparation? Review courses with materials, including hotel, food, and travel to the course cost more than $2,500. Review materials without the course, such as PEER review manual and other review materials, can cost several hundred dollars. Prep time was anywhere from an hour a day when working to several hours a day over the entire summer. I had to travel to take the exam, pay for a night in a hotel and for two meals, which was about $150.
  • Part IV: The American Board of Emergency Medicine's estimate that this takes 20 minutes every five years is a joke. This part of the process is difficult and absolutely unnecessary for emergency physicians who work as locum tenens in rural settings. I spoke with ABEM multiple times about this. If I do not keep my board certification, it will be the result of this aspect of the process. I know emergency physicians who fabricate this part to maintain board certification. What is more important? Is it reading the articles, maintaining CME in emergency medicine, and preparing for the ConCERT, or is it some pseudoassessment of practice performance?

Also, as a federal employee in emergency medicine, I have received no monetary benefit for maintaining my board certification, being residency trained in addition to having completed a fellowship in EM ultrasonography and being a registered diagnostic medical sonographer. Plus, I didn't receive any financial assistance in preparing for the boards (i.e., conference costs).

The contents of this article are not entirely factual, and it's interesting the residency trained board certified emergency physicians I work alongside and others I trained with have feelings not congruent with this article. They, too, find the Practice Assessment by ABEM a joke. The hospitals where we are working assess our practice performance and determine our performance by reappointment to the hospital staff.

Maintaining my board certification is in doubt. If I continue to be board certified in 10 years, I plan to take the ConCERT exam and then retire at the end of 2025. I wish to exit EM as I entered it, having passed the ConCERT exam.

Beth Thoma, MD

Tullahoma, TN

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