Rigors of recertification

January 1, 2006

Dermatologists are working to demonstrate physician competency through more rigorous recertification processes.

Dermatologists are working to demonstrate physician competency through more rigorous recertification processes.

The American Board of Dermatology committed to a conversion of its voluntary recertification to include evidence of professional standing, continuing education, evaluation of performance in practice and an exam. At press time, no definite plan was in place to implement these changes, though it was announced at the Academy of Dermatology meeting last February that determining that process would be a priority.

On Call polled dermatologists around the country about an ongoing maintenance of competency program. One change doctors expect includes the possibility the take home exam will become a sitting, proctored exam.

Rules changed after 1991

Under the current system, dermatologists who passed their board exam prior to 1991 do not have to go through recertification.

"But (recertification is) actually a good idea because it forces people - as busy as we are in practice these days - to stay current, to stay on top of the latest things happening in dermatology. It simply certifies that people have maintained a level of proficiency and awareness of things current in dermatology."

In Lynbrook, N.Y., Marvin B. Tankel, M.D., says, "Recertification, in general, is something that is being demanded by society, (and by) insurance companies, so like it or not, we have to be a part of it."

Questioning exemption

Dr. Tankel, who has been in practice 20 years, says recertification should be a must.

"Everybody should be evaluated; that's a technicality. You can't give any logical reason we aren't (evaluated) other than the way this evolved. People who practice longer should not be exempt."

Proctored vs. take-home

"If we fight against this too much it looks bad - and it certainly doesn't instill confidence in the patients," he says.

Dr. Sorkin thinks there might be better ways to assure the competency of physicians.

"I know some people think that doctors who have been practicing longer should not be exempt from recertification, but I do that through the Academy continuing education. Most of the time when you reapply for managed care recertification or hospital privileges, they want to know that you keep up with a certain number of CME hours."

Role of CME

Monica M. Dahlem, M.D., in San Francisco, has been in practice for nine years and will need to complete her recertification.