PHILADELPHIA, June 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Medical science changes at an
astonishing rate. Is your doctor keeping up?
Lifelong learning has become not only desirable, but essential, for
doctors to stay current in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
According to Dr. Christine Cassel, President and CEO of the American Board
of Internal Medicine (ABIM), "Ongoing learning and enhancement of knowledge
and skill is essential to high quality care and helps all physicians
improve the quality of patient care they provide."
Although it makes sense that physicians with more experience would have
accumulated more knowledge and skill - that practice makes perfect -
findings published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in February of last
year suggest that physician performance declines over time. This seems to
suggest that experience in medicine may make doctors expert at old ways of
doing things - and lead to lower, not higher, quality care.
There are 24 certifying boards in the United States recognized by the
American Board of Medical Specialties. ABIM is the largest. Most doctors
voluntarily seek board certification - which in the past was good for a
lifetime. Doctors certified more recently must recertify periodically, but
many older physicians do not have to. These doctors may have standards of
practice that do not reflect current recommendations.
Certification is designed to assure the public that a physician has
knowledge that is broad, deep, and current. The boards' programs for
maintenance of certification try to assure that physicians maintain and
enhance that knowledge - and effectively apply it in their practice.
Doctors can demonstrate their commitment to ongoing learning through
participating in these programs.
"The Maintenance of Certification program helps physicians improve the
quality of patient care," said John Rother, Director of Policy and Strategy
for AARP. "Maintenance of Certification is designed to promote better
doctor - patient communications, better outcomes, and higher patient
There is something you can do. More and more physicians with lifetime
certificates are voluntarily recertifying, recognizing the importance and
value of ongoing learning. But many still do not. Ask your doctors if they
are maintaining their board certificates - and if the answer is no, you may
want to encourage them to do so. You can't afford out-of-date health care.
SOURCE American Board of Internal Medicine