A Current Look at Why Certification Matters

A Current Look at Why Certification Matters


ABMS Media Contact: Lori Boukas
(312) 436-2626

New Study Findings Support Benefit of Physician Board Certification and Continuous Professional Development such as the ABMS Maintenance of Certification Program

CHICAGO – Aug. 24, 2010 – A new study on the quality of physician care provides
evidence of the benefit of specialty board certification and suggests the necessity of continuous professional development programs, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties Maintenance of Certification® (ABMS MOC®) program.

Published in the August issue of Health Affairs, the study analyzed 244,153 hospitalizations of patients with congestive heart failure or acute heart attack in Pennsylvania who were treated by more than 6,000 doctors specializing in family medicine, internal medicine or cardiology. The study found that foreign-trained doctors provide the same quality of care as doctors educated in the United States. The study also found two other important quality distinctions relevant to the general population of physicians in the United States:


  • Specialty board certification was associated with lower mortality and shorter stays.
  • Physician performance declined over time, with mortality rates and length of stays increasing with the number of years since graduation from medical school. The study was authored by John Norcini, CEO of Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, a Philadelphia-based not-for-profit.


“This study adds to the growing body of evidence linking board certification with improved patient care outcomes,” said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, ABMS president and CEO. “It also suggests the importance of healthcare quality-improvement programs such as the MOC program, which promotes physician commitment to continuous learning and competency assessment.”

Certification by one of ABMS’ 24 Member Boards is a voluntary process above and beyond what is required to practice medicine. It is regarded 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. ABMS Member Board certification also is the only process that enables the MOC program, which provides the systems and tools to ensure physician standards and accountability.

The ABMS MOC program is the most comprehensive program of its kind for physicians. Rather than a traditional recertification process, which relies on the demonstration of competency via methods such as periodic tests or the accumulation of CME credits at educational meetings, the MOC program reflects the principle that medical education is most effective as a continuum rather than an isolated learning event. The MOC program is an active process of assessment and continuous professional development that requires participants to demonstrate ongoing competency and keep pace with advances in their field of medicine throughout their entire careers.

About ABMS
For more than 75 years, American Board of Medical Specialties has been 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 health care 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 covers over 145 medical specialties and subspecialties 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.