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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

ABEM Issues Update On Proposed EM Continuous Certification Program

ABEM recently released the following statement regarding its proposed Emergency Medicine continuous certification program. ABEM representatives met with the AAEM Executive Committee during February's Scientific Assembly to discuss AAEM members' opinions on the plan. The following release is an update on the decisions made so far.

The American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) has received a number of thoughtful and valuable responses to its request for feedback regarding the new Emergency Medicine Continuous Certification (EMCC) program that is under development. Based upon the feedback that has been received to date, a number of things have happened:

1. The length of the EMCC cycle has been changed from 7 years to 10 years.

2. The attestation form that will be used to assess the practice performance component of EMCC will not be sent to an individual person, but instead to the medical staff affairs office at the institution that a diplomate identifies as the primary practice site. The form will only be used to assess, in a "yes" or "no" fashion, whether a diplomate has unrestricted privileges to practice Emergency Medicine at the facility and will not ask for any qualitative assessment of the diplomate's performance.

3. ABEM has invited its sponsoring societies, i.e., ACEP and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM), to meet with EMCC Task Force members to discuss the Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment component of EMCC. The goal of the discussions is to assure that it is developed and administered in an uncomplicated manner that both benefits the specialty and assures ongoing input from other Emergency Medicine organizations. Robert W. Schafermeyer, M.D., and John J. Skiendzielewski, M.D., will represent ACEP in these discussions.

A number of individuals have asked for clarity regarding the motivation of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) in requiring its member boards to develop the new continuous certification program, which is composed of the four components outlined in the winter 2001 ABEM memo. Organizations that are positioned, through either regulatory or financial mechanisms, to control the manner in which medicine will be practiced in the United States in the future are currently meeting to share ideas and to plan strategies to improve the quality of health care provided in our country as it is seen from their perspectives. Examples of such organizations include the Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA), the Leapfrog Group, which is composed of interested Fortune 500 companies, and the National Quality Forum (NQF), which includes representation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. While the initial efforts of these organizations are primarily focusing upon standards and requirements for health care facilities, the ABMS strongly believes that it is only a matter of time before the qualifications and performance of individual physicians will be addressed.

The new continuous certification approach adopted by the ABMS is intended to show these organizations and the American public that possession of ABMS board certification doesn't simply mean that physicians have passed a periodic written test of knowledge. Rather, ABMS hopes to show that, in addition, physicians are keeping up-to-date on a yearly basis regarding maintenance of their knowledge and skills, as well as recent developments in their disciplines, and that they have ongoing evidence of successful clinical practice through possession of an unrestricted medical license and privileges to practice their chosen specialty at a hospital of their choice.

This powerful message has helped the ABMS to gain a seat at the table to participate in the ongoing dialogue that is taking place. The ABMS believes that its decision to establish higher standards for board certification from within the field of medicine will make it much less likely that less appropriate and more onerous standards will be set by groups outside of medicine.

ABEM is committed to developing and implementing a high-quality continuous certification program that fulfills the requirements established by the ABMS while, at the same time, being responsive to the needs and concerns expressed by our diplomates and sponsoring organizations. The EMCC program continues to be a work in process, and your input is valued and encouraged. Comments can be submitted through the ABEM website at www.abem.org, to emcc@abem.org, or can be mailed to ABEM at 3000 Coolidge Road, East Lansing, MI, 48823-6319.