In a recent Leader Voices Blog post, AAFP President-elect John Cullen, M.D., of Valdez, Alaska, gave Academy members an update on the progress of the AAFP Task Force on Board Certification in Family Medicine.
Created in July 2017 in response to longstanding member concerns about the American Board of Family Medicine's (ABFM's) continuing board certification process, the AAFP task force was charged with
- evaluating alternative methods of achieving ongoing board certification in family medicine;
- exploring options for achieving demonstration of knowledge in addition to those the ABFM currently offers (i.e., taking a secured proctored exam or submitting patient quality data to an ABFM registry);
- developing policy on professional self-regulation and the appropriate use of maintenance of certification/continuing board certification;
- developing policy regarding criteria by which specialty certifying boards in family medicine may be evaluated; and
- considering other aspects of board certification as needed to address concerns Academy members have raised about the current process.
After meeting in December 2017 and January 2018, the task force developed several recommendations for consideration by the AAFP Board of Directors and the Congress of Delegates. The AAFP Board approved those recommendations during its April 23-26 meeting.
Academy members can now review those measures, thanks to a newly released report(667 KB PDF) in which the task force details the history of board certification, describes the benefits it confers -- as well as the burdens it poses -- and explores alternative means to achieve ongoing certification in family medicine.
Specifically, the AAFP Board gave a thumbs up to the following recommended actions:
- Adopt a new policy titled "Professional Self-Regulation, Competence, and Certification" that was drafted last year by the Academy's Commission on Continuing Professional Development (COCPD) and now has been further defined by the task force.
- Adopt a new guideline dubbed "Guiding Principles for the Evaluation of Family Medicine Specialty Certifying Boards" that also was drafted last year by the COCPD and was further fine-tuned by the task force.
- Begin preliminary evaluation and background investigation needed to establish a certifying body that would best serve members' needs.
- Identify additional ways to communicate members' concerns about continuing board certification.
- Work in concert with the ABFM to recognize that both patients and physicians are key stakeholders in continuing board certification. This shared vision should minimize physician burden, enhance quality of care and further the specialty of family medicine.
Noting that both the AAFP and the ABFM "have the health of the public as their primary concern," the task force report concludes by stating unequivocally "that the health of family physicians is a necessary consideration when determining the best means for continuing board certification."
The Academy's work in this area will continue, as will similar work by the American Board of Medical Specialties' Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future(visioninitiative.org) initiative. Look for more updates in the coming months.
Related AAFP News Coverage
Leader Voices Blog: Make Our Voices Heard on Continuing Board Certification
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AAFP Definition: Certification/Maintenance of Certification