June 14, 2017

AMA Meeting June 2017I serve my hospital as the Chair of the Credentials Committee. Many of my colleagues have expressed both angst regarding the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process and interest in alternative pathways to demonstrate remaining current in their knowledge. Without guidance from other organizations, board certification status remains the primary method to re-credential our medical staff.

As one of the opportunities during this presidential year, I attended the AMA House of Delegates meeting this week, which provided me with education on both the policy process for the AMA and the leadership elections.

During our NHMS Council meetings this year, the topic of the high-stakes board exam has come up. If you recall, over the last two years, the maintenance of certification issue along with the costs, time, and questionable efficacy have been raised. The AMA was tasked last year with working with the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) to help make this MOC process more meaningful for the adult learner and to better reflect the knowledge and lifelong learning that is needed of physicians. 

The NHMS Council proposed a resolution asking the AMA to take a position that all ABMS boards would cease requiring the exam in favor of meaningful CME with questions to assess our knowledge on a more frequent basis. A similar resolution was also offered from seven other states. Thus began my education - back to the fourth/fifth grade to follow a "bill" through the AMA House. 

I, and many other physicians, testified in favor of the resolutions, which were referred for further study and report, reaffirming current AMA policy. At the meeting, the AMA Council on Medical Education issued a report tracking ongoing changes in MOC that included the development of state model legislation that would bar hospitals, insurers and state medical boards from requiring MOC as a condition of credentialing, privileging, insurance panel participation or licensure. Introducing legislation is a definite option for us to consider. The council and I would value your opinion

I believe, as I am sure many of you do, that we need to continue meaningful CME, but that the exam is not an appropriate way to demonstrate our knowledge and skills.


Deb Harrigan, MD

Please send questions and comments to president@nhms.org.