Recertification creates a false dichotomy among physicians. Yet leaders in medicine are quiet.
November 14, 2011
To the Editor,
Regarding “ABMS to make physicians’ maintenance- of- certification status public”
(amednews, posted Nov. 14, 2011) :
In its self-appointed role, the ABMS has insinuated itself as the arbiter of physician competence, competing with the authority of the states’ departments of public health. It is never mentioned that the boards were established as a voluntary testing service for interested physicians to demonstrate an above average knowledge in their specialty. Not as a surrogate for state licensing boards.
But there is an ethical problem here as well. The word “certified” implies that certified physicians are competent and those who are not certified are not. Most physicians would agree that this sends a misleading message to the public. It gives the ABMS undue influence over physicians’ reputations and their ability to make a living. And by so doing it eliminates the original voluntary basis of the ABMS, making it a coercive one instead. For clearly, most physicians will admit that they take the boards out of fear for being seen as uncertified or decertified.
Thus the ABMS should refer to those who are boarded as “diplomates”. This eliminates the prejudice against those physicians who under the present classification are not certified. And it still accords those who are the recognition that they worked for.
Edward J. Volpintesta MD