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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

AAEM Meets with ABEM to Discuss EM Continuous Certification

The world of medicine is currently buzzing with proposals and questions regarding the implementation of continuous certification processes for medical specialists, and Emergency Medicine is no exception. Recently, ABEM has proposed a continuous certification process for emergency physicians to replace the current 10-year cycle of board exams.

In response to this proposal, AAEM recently completed an email survey of its membership, seeking their thoughts on this issue. (Members should note the willingness of the leadership to seek your views before discussing this issue with ABEM.) With the results of this survey in hand, the AAEM Executive Committee met with ABEM representatives at the recent Scientific Assembly in Orlando. Citing the survey results, Drs. McNamara, Wood, and Fenton said that a majority of AAEM members:

  1. Agree that the overall concept of ABEM continuous certification is a good one and should be implemented in some form.

  2. Agree that the Lifelong Learning and Periodic Self-Assessment criteria, in which the yearly review of literature selected by ABEM and answering questions related to these readings will be required, are important and should be implemented.

  3. Disagree that the Cognitive Expertise area change to comprehensive testing every 7 instead of 10 years is important and should be implemented.

  4. Agree that the Practice Performance criteria, if it requires an attestation by the physician director of the ED or equivalent individual, could present problems for emergency physicians because of the nature of some EM contract holders, and should not be implemented.

  5. Disagree that the ABEM eligibility requirements which allow physicians who only do administrative activities in EM (i.e., no clinical time) to qualify as "actively involved in clinical practice" should be retained.

The Executive Committee also brought ABEM's attention to AAEM's new public education website (www.911emergency.org) and asked for their support of this important resource. At the website, members of the public can learn more about the importance of board certification in Emergency Medicine and access a database which lists the EDs across the country that are staffed 24 hours a day with at least one board certified emergency physician.

Partly in response to some of these issues, ABEM representatives offered a report to the AAEM membership prior to the annual Candidates Forum on Saturday, February 24. This report specified that:

  1. At the February 2, 2001, ABEM Board of Directors meeting, the Board reaffirmed many of its previous decisions regarding Emergency Medicine Continuous Certification (EMCC). It also reconsidered two areas of the program. The Board voted that the program of continuous certification would be based on a 10-year cycle. This is a change from the information reported earlier, which suggested a 7-year cycle.

  2. ABEM has proposed that physicians will need to be involved in the clinical practice of Emergency Medicine in order to be eligible for continuous certification. The proposed definition of clinical practice would include physicians who practice in Emergency Medicine or an approved subspecialty of Emergency Medicine, or physicians who engage in teaching, research or administrative duties directly related to Emergency Medicine or an approved subspecialty of Emergency Medicine. ABEM is working out details of how diplomates will demonstrate that they are participating in the practice of Emergency Medicine according to this definition and is considering verification methods that are as simple as an attestation statement.

  3. ABEM will not be "going into the CME business." Rather, they will develop a CME template that can be used by any Emergency Medicine Organization to use for CME programming that meets the standard necessary for the continuous certification system.

AAEM members who would like a copy of ABEM's full report at the 2001 AAEM Scientific Assembly should contact the AAEM office by telephone at (800) 884-2236 or email at info@aaem.org.