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MINDFUL EM

Isn't It Time to Abandon the Recertification Exam?

Hazan, Alberto MD; Haber, Jordana MD

Emergency Medicine News: June 2016 - Volume 38 - Issue 6 - p 7
doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000484517.56240.67
MINDFUL EM

Dr. Hazanis an emergency physician in Las Vegas and the author of the medical thriller Dr. Vigilante and the pretween urban fantasy series The League of Freaks. Find out more about his novels athttp://amzn.to/1Dug0iG. He is also a board member withhttp://givingmore.weebly.com. Follow him @Dr_Vigilante. Dr. Haberis an emergency physician at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. She has a master's degree in medical education. Follow her @JoJoHaber.

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More Effective Approach

The one thing that is unlikely to help you keep up with the latest medical innovations or retain the knowledge you have gained since medical school, however, is the 10-year recertification examination, a mandatory requirement by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. It doesn't make sense to spend a couple of weeks every 10 years cramming for a test that does little to ensure that we stay up to date on our medical education. This is, in many ways, an obsolete exam that doesn't benefit our overall education.

Our anesthesiologist colleagues have found a more effective approach than the recertification exam. The American Board of Anesthesiology this year became the first medical board to do away with the 10-year recertification exam. Instead, anesthesiologists will be offered a “more relevant and personalized approach ... to assess their knowledge and address knowledge gaps” through online quizzes and other educational material. (http://bit.ly/1S1Y5HJ.)

Much of the criticism of the anesthesia recertification exam, which also applies to the emergency medicine 10-year test, argued that it was an expensive pass/fail assessment that did not provide feedback on performance or demonstrate that it was an effective way to keep anesthesiologists current in their field. Addressing these concerns, the regular online quizzes that are part of the MOCA 2.0 (Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology) program will give immediate comments, assist the practitioner in identifying any knowledge gaps, and provide better patient care.

Our current technology allows for any of us with a computer or smartphone to have the entire breadth of medical knowledge at our fingertips. We are not naïve enough to think that every single practicing emergency physician will take advantage of the myriad podcasts, blogs, and other FOAMed resources, but cramming for a costly exam once a decade is not the most effective way to ensure we stay up to date with medical knowledge. The current Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment program, through its yearly requirement of 10 to 15 journal articles and attached examination, is certainly a much more effective way to promote continuous learning, and does a much better job at encouraging us to stay current.

Most emergency physicians agree that we should reform maintenance of board certification by abolishing the 10-year exam. Opposition continues to grow not only in our field but also throughout the medical community. If the 10-year recertification has been abandoned by one branch of medicine, shouldn't all of the others, including emergency medicine, follow suit?

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