Statement Regarding Recent Newsweek Article from ABIM Board Chair David H. Johnson, MD
Philadelphia, PA, March 11, 2015 – A recent article posted to the Newsweek website regarding the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) contains numerous and serious misstatements, selective omissions, inaccurate information and erroneous reporting.
The author asserts that ABIM has made the exams that physicians periodically take to maintain their certification harder in hopes of failing more physicians, who then must re-take the test and pay more fees to ABIM. This is untrue and not supported by data. The author says pass rates are steadily declining, but in fact they rise and fall over the years and vary across disciplines. In total, 96% of physicians who ABIM certifies passed an exam to maintain their certification.
The author asserts that ABIM has a monopoly on certifying internists, but in reality, internists have a choice among certifying boards that certify physicians in internal medicine and its subspecialties.
The author also presents an untrue and misleading interpretation of information from ABIM and ABIM Foundation's tax returns. His reporting reflects a poor understanding of that information and a highly selective presentation of information designed to prove his faulty premises.
Finally, the author failed to disclose that his wife is an internist.
ABIM recognizes serious challenges in developing a relevant, meaningful Maintenance of Certification program that identifies physicians whose knowledge has been reassessed and who have shown that they have kept up to date with evolving medical information. That is why, last month, we announced immediate changes to the requirements for maintaining certification and the way ABIM works. We are sincere in our desire to work openly with the internal medicine community to rethink the ways in which ABIM serves physicians and the public.
Taking care of patients is a significant privilege and serious responsibility. With knowledge, science and the practice of medicine changing so rapidly, it is hard for busy doctors to keep up. Achieving initial board certification and maintaining it provides physicians with a structured framework for continuing learning, and benefits the patients they serve.
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For 80 years, certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) has stood for the highest standard in internal medicine and its 20 subspecialties and has meant that internists have demonstrated—to their peers and to the public—that they have the clinical judgment, skills and attitudes essential for the delivery of excellent patient care. ABIM is not a membership society, but a non-profit, independent evaluation organization. Our accountability is both to the profession of medicine and to the public. ABIM is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties. For additional updates, follow ABIM on Facebook and Twitter.