It’s good to have options, isn’t it?
So why isn’t there an option when it comes to taking your boards? In other words, can’t residents have a say with which board to become certified with once they’re done with their residency?
Well, there’s good news for you. The answer is yes. You definitely have options. There are other boards for your initial written exams. (And that also includes the oral exams for those of you becoming surgeons.)
The best part is that there is not just one board out there to get certified with, as many believe is the case during their residency.
During my chief year as an orthopedic surgery resident, several of us found out that are three (and only three) truly legitimate physician board certifying bodies in America: the ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).
Historically, the ABPS was the first to certify both allopathic and osteopathic residents nearly over half a century ago, while the AOA was only able to certify osteopathic residents, and the ABMS only certified allopathic residents.
Fact: The ABMS is the largest and most well-known certifying board (and therefore the most monopolizing board). That being said, nearly every resident is steered towards taking the ABMS boards after graduating from residency.
Let’s now take another board, for example, such as the ABPS. The ABPS consists of 12 governing boards that oversee physician board certification for various specialties and subspecialties. These include:
- administrative medicine
- diagnostic radiology
- disaster medicine
- emergency medicine
- family medicine
- family medicine obstetrics
- general surgery
- geriatric medicine
- hospital medicine
- integrative medicine
- internal medicine
- obstetrics and gynecology
- orthopedic surgery
- plastic and reconstructive surgery
- radiation oncology
- urgent care medicine
Boards such as the ABPS aren’t some quick online deal, nor are they some onsite certificate you would get after attending a really nice drug rep dinner. They are a time-tested, verified, and trusted source for board certification for both initial and recertification exams.
Remember, board certification is supposed to be an option and not a requirement. Unfortunately, finding and keeping your dream job if you’re not board certified will add unwanted stress for you and your family.
And in case you’re wondering, I don’t work for or have anything to gain from informing you about any other board. I want you to know that you have other valid options for taking your boards, regardless of what you’re made to believe during residency.
So at this point, you may be asking yourself, why hasn’t an article like this ever been written before?
Well, the answer is quite simple: It’s called monopoly.
Just as we trust that there isn’t another sun in our solar system, we are basically streamlined into thinking that there is only one valid organization for board certification. I remember as residents that we never even considered any other board simply because we had never heard of any other board.
Here’s the deal. There is never a universal 100 percent passing rate for any board. Any large monopolizing board that has brainwashed its test-takers into thinking that they have no other choice but to pay and sit through another round of their organization’s annual exam wins. This happens, time and time again. Year after year. It’s simple but clever math.
Monopolies are bad. Very bad.
So the final question becomes, why is it that nearly all residency training programs in the country (regardless of field or specialty) only inform their residents about only one board? While the answer to that is unknown, the chances are that residency programs directors also didn’t know that there existed any other boards.
Well, until now, that is.
As in anything in life, it’s good to have options, isn’t it?
Emmanuel K. Konstantakos is an orthopedic surgeon.
Image credit: Shutterstock.com