CHICAGO, July 2 Recent news reports have highlighted the importance of physician credentials and ensuring that physicians meet high standards in their chosen area of practice, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which coordinates and assists its 24 Member Boards in their efforts to develop and implement educational and professional standards for the evaluation and certification of physician specialists. Certification by an ABMS Member Board is considered the gold standard in physician certification in the health care industry.
ABMS recommends that consumers who are searching for a doctor select a board certified physician and confirm that he or she is certified by the appropriate ABMS specialty board - one that encompasses the training and evaluation for the specific treatment or procedure the patient needs.
"Patients should find out if their physician is board certified and then ask 'By what board and in what specialty,'" said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, president and CEO of ABMS. "For example, someone with heart disease who wants to be evaluated or treated by a cardiac specialist should first determine if the doctor is certified by an ABMS Member Board that certifies specialists in cardiovascular disease," Dr. Weiss explained.
Certification by one of the 24 Member Boards is a voluntary process above and beyond what is required to practice medicine, but it is looked to by hospitals, insurance companies and increasingly by patients as essential documentation of a doctor's training, competence and commitment to lifelong learning in a specific specialty. Board certification indicates that the doctor has:
An internal medicine specialist who wishes to be certified in the subspecialty of cardiovascular disease (which includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels) must have:
"Any doctor who has graduated from medical school, fulfilled residency requirements, and has been licensed by the state in which he or she practices, can set up an office and practice medicine, even in a specialty for which he or she has not trained," Dr. Weiss said. "An ABMS Member Board certified doctor has participated in a voluntary training and assessment process that demonstrates knowledge and skill in their chosen specialty/subspecialty beyond the basic licensing requirements."
To keep pace with continuous advances in the field of medicine, ABMS and its Member Boards have evolved their recertification programs to one of continuous professional development, called ABMS Maintenance of Certification(R) (ABMS MOC(R)). ABMS MOC assures that the participating physician is committed to lifelong learning and on-going self-assessment along six areas of competency. Measurement of these competencies happens in numerous ways, some of which vary according to the specialty. This is carried out by all Member Boards using a four-part process that is designed to keep certification continuous.
Consumers also should be aware that there are organizations that provide certification through a process far less rigorous than ABMS Member Board certification; in some cases by taking a weekend course or reading a book and passing a one-time exam.
Patients seeking information on the status of a physician's certification in a specific specialty can find it - free of charge - by logging onto at www.ABMS.org or by calling 1-866-ASK-ABMS.
Now in its 75th year, American Board of Medical Specialties is the medical organization overseeing physician certification in the United States. It assists its 24 Member Boards in their efforts to develop and implement educational and professional standards for the evaluation and certification of physician specialists. ABMS Member Boards provide physician certification information to ABMS for its certification verification service programs. ABMS is recognized by the key healthcare credentialing accreditation entities as a primary equivalent source of board certification data for medical specialists. Patients can visit www.abms.org or call toll-free 1-866-ASK-ABMS to see if their physician is board certified by an ABMS Member Board. For more information about ABMS visit www.abms.org or call (312) 436-2600.
The 24 Member Boards that make up the ABMS Board Enterprise, cover over 145 medical specialties and subspecialties, and include: American Board of Allergy and Immunology, American Board of Anesthesiology, American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, American Board of Dermatology, American Board of Emergency Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Medical Genetics, American Board of Neurological Surgery, American Board of Nuclear Medicine, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Board of Ophthalmology, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, American Board of Otolaryngology, American Board of Pathology, American Board of Pediatrics, American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Board of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Preventive Medicine, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Board of Radiology, American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and American Board of Urology.
-- Earned a medical degree (MD, DO or other approved credential approved by the Member Board) -- Completed the accredited education and training -- Fulfilled residency requirements -- Been licensed to practice medicine in at least one U.S. state, territory or Canada -- Passed rigorous examination in their specialty or subspecialty, and -- Met other ABMS Board-specified qualifications
SOURCE American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)