2019 Year in Review

Advancing our specialty is at the forefront of everything we do. In 2019, this goal took on many forms, including a few notable initiatives that we believe supported physician well-being, widened the pathway to board certification, and continued to promote diplomates’ lifelong learning.

Absence from Training Policy

This year, we revised our Absence from Training Policy to allow residents to take an additional 40 days away from training for family or medical leave without extending training. This change was not without controversy.

Some argued that the additional time away would put residents at risk of being inadequately trained and would burden other residents who filled in for colleagues on leave. Most residents applauded the change noting the need for flexibility in extenuating circumstances. To date, more than 70 residents have requested the additional leave.

Ultimately, we felt the policy was in the best interest of residents who face increased risk of burn out and depression, in part, due to the rigors of training. We were motivated by concerns for residents’ well-being and their ability to provide high-quality care to the patients they serve. We will continue to monitor the policy’s impact on training programs and make revisions as necessary.

New Alternate Entry Pathway (AEP)

In January 2019, we began offering a new pathway to certification for clinical educators who were internationally trained and certified. The new pathway is specifically designed to recognize the exceptional contributions of internationally certified anesthesiologists who contribute to the breadth of our training programs. We received 15 applications for this program so far.

The original AEP program provides a research and fellowship pathway to certification. Over the years, we’ve had several applicants who did not meet these requirements, but were exceptional educators. Now, applicants can chose the path that best aligns with their scholarly accomplishments.

Evolving Continuing Certification

We’re continuing to enhance our MOCA program. This year, our volunteer diplomate users’ group guided work on a redesign of the Physician’s Portal and a new ABA mobile application. The goal was to create a more user-friendly, seamless experience for diplomates seeking information about their certification.

This work will provide the technical foundation we need as we consider new assessment tools to help guide diplomates’ learning.

The redesigned portal and mobile app will launch next summer.

Earlier this year, we hosted an Innovation Summit, where we deliberated with colleagues as well as experts in technology and education about how new technology is changing how we learn. We followed that meeting with a Learning Theory Workshop to move the ideas and feedback we’ve heard from the users’ group and Innovation Summit into an actionable plan.

This work happened in tandem with the release of the final Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission report in February. That report provides 14 recommendations to transform continuing certification into a more relevant and meaningful program for diplomates across the medical specialties. Since the report’s release, the ABMS has appointed three of our board directors to serve on the standards, professionalism and advancing practice task forces charged with implementing the report’s key recommendations.


Some diplomates have told us there’s a dearth of evidence to support the American Board of Medical Specialties’ Maintenance of Certification (ABMS-MOC) program.  While there is strong evidence to support the benefits of participating in MOC, we believe it’s important to research the efficacy of our programs.

This year, we published a paper about the association between MOCA Minute performance and medical license action. We also published a handful of other papers in refereed journals about initial certification, continuing certification and physician well-being.

This year, we also awarded our first FAER/ABA Research in Education Grant to Benjamin H. Cloyd, M.D.  Dr. Cloyd is using the $100,000 co-sponsored grant to research the value and impact of MOCA on clinical care.

One of our goals as a Board is to conduct research that looks at the validity of board certification and its impact on diplomates and the patients they serve. We expect the pace of our publications to continue and will share what we learn with the broader diplomate and healthcare communities. 

Other Initiatives

While many of our initiatives in 2019 focused on short-term goals, we’ve also contemplated our long-term vision for Board and want to ensure we have strong leaders and volunteers who can help us realize this vision. Our board took various steps to prepare for a surge of new directors – six in total – that will join our Board of Directors over the next three years.

In preparation, we’ve reviewed the director qualifications and attributes, including diversity and inclusion, to ensure the board’s composition reflects the racial, ethnic, geographic, subspecialty, and practice profile diversity that is reflected in our diplomate corps.

This work has positioned us well to find future directors among our nearly 700 volunteers to continue advancing our specialty, elevating practice standards and guiding lifelong learning well into the future.

As we look ahead to 2020, please let us know how we can support you as you pursue initial certification or participate in continuing certification.


One comment

  1. I applaud the creation of the Absence from Training policy and wish that it had been in place during my Anesthesiology Residency and Fellowship almost 40 years ago.