Professional Self-Regulation, Competence, and Certification of Physicians

The AAFP is committed to continuing professional development that leads to better care for patients, families, communities, and populations. Professional self-regulation is an important privilege and responsibility that can contribute to the provision of high quality, cost-effective care by ensuring that the physician workforce maintains the competence necessary to provide such care.

Decisions about state licensure and/or credentialing and privileging by hospitals, insurers, and employers should be based on a physician’s documented training and/or experience, demonstrated abilities, and current competence. Physician and practice quality performance measurement and improvement are measures of competence, as are professionalism and engagement in continuing professional development.

Quality performance measurement and improvement activities undertaken at physician workplaces should be considered satisfactory to meet the Improvement in Medical Practice requirement of Continuing Board Certification.

Specialty board certification can offer an important way to differentiate family physicians from other medical providers. The AAFP believes that maintaining board certification should be understood as voluntary. A wide variety of attributes contribute to a physician’s competence and quality of care, thus participation in programs for physician accountability such as Continuing Board Certification should not be used as an absolute requirement for decisions involving licensure, employment, payment, credentialing or privileging. Failure to maintain specialty board certification should not be used in isolation as cause to deny privileging, credentialing, payment, employment, and/or licensure.

(April 2018 BOD)