ASH Recommends Changes to Continuing Board Certification, and more

ASH Recommends Changes to Continuing Board Certification

In December 2018, a commission appointed by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and other entities released a draft report with recommendations for reforming Maintenance of Certification (MOC), “The Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission.” ASH submitted comments in response to the draft report to ensure the final recommendations align with the needs of hematologists. (A final report is due to the ABMS in February; at press time it is unclear when that report might be made public.)

ASH applauded ABMS for taking a long-overdue look at MOC, agreeing with many of the commission’s recommendations, including its stance on replacing summative tests with formative assessments. The Society favors a continuing board certification process that provides ongoing feedback and offers periodic, low-stakes assessments. ASH believes the current 10-year summative exam does not recognize the diversification of career paths in hematology and, without a link to education, does not provide opportunities to close knowledge gaps.

The commission’s recommendations are not necessarily a cure for the anxiety and concern many subspecialists feel regarding MOC. Some physicians believe MOC – a significant investment of time and resources – adds little value to their practice of medicine, and individual suggestions for change vary widely. Over the past few years, ASH has worked with ABMS and the American Board of Internal Medicine and has posed questions about the evidence supporting board certification programs in general. Alan Lichtin, MD, a hematologist at Cleveland Clinic and chair of ASH’s MOC Working Group, spoke to ASH Clinical News for a July 2018 feature article about a pragmatic approach to the MOC process. “We are submitting ourselves to a testing process that is not proven to demonstrate that people taking the test are truly learning,” Dr. Lichtin said.

ASH staff and volunteers will continue to advocate on behalf of hematologists by interacting regularly with ABMS and exploring ways to make meaningful changes to MOC and to help hematologists navigate the shifting certification landscape. The Society also will continue to invest in education programs and ensure that all CME activities are available for MOC credits.  In a press statement, 2019 ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, remarked: “The Society remains committed to working closely with ABMS to make continuing certification more valuable for hematologists and the patients in their care.”

Be the Voice of Your Peers

ASH is accepting applications from individuals in MD, MD-PhD, or PhD training programs interested in serving on the 2019-2020 ASH Trainee Council. Council members help the Committee on Training develop and evaluate ASH events and services, facilitate annual meeting trainee events such as ASH-a-Palooza, and assist in the creation and revision of educational materials.

Participating on the Trainee Council is an excellent opportunity to gain exposure to ASH committee service and interact with Society leaders, as Council members represent the needs of trainees at all levels of the organization. Visit to learn more and apply by the April 12 deadline.