It’s time for family physicians to challenge MOC

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If it weren’t for social media, I would not know that internal medicine physicians are challenging the ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements and the ABIM.  I became encouraged by their efforts and fascinated with details of the ABIM’s finances.   If you’ve been a board-certified physician for at least three years, you should know about MOC.  According to the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) website, MOC is a process that “encourages clinical excellence and benefits both physicians and their patients.”  You must pay to complete this process, it takes many hours of your time, and it must be completed in addition to usual continuing medical education (CME).

Now that I know there are internists who are actively challenging these exams and the ABIM, I wonder why more Family Medicine physicians aren’t doing the same?  Where is our outspoken physician champion, Wes Fisher, and Newsweek exposé of the American Board of Family Medicine’s (ABFM) finances?

A quick google news search of MOC shows results almost exclusively involving the ABIM.  Why isn’t family medicine speaking up?   To be fair, I heard from another family medicine physician, Dr. Linda Girgis, that there was a petition from family medicine physicians, but “nothing serious.”

Are family medicine physician’s schedules so light that we need a little MOC to fill our time?  Are our wallets so full of money that we need to pay for more exams?  Does the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) 2014 recertification exam pass rate of 84.8 percent mean that 15.2 percent of us are not practicing quality patient care?  If yes, then why didn’t completing mandatory MOC requirements help that 15 percent pass?  Do family medicine physicians like MOC and recertification exams?

If you like MOC, no doubt you should continue completing it.  But, shouldn’t practicing physicians who don’t believe it benefits them have the right to opt out?  Since there is little evidence supporting that MOC improves patient care, it seems more reasonable that it be voluntary instead of mandatory.

We need a family medicine physician leader to speak out against MOC in an unrelenting, meaningful way now.

But, it can’t be me.

I do, however, promise to fully support this physician leader.  I will silently cheer them on, whisper about their heroic efforts with one or zero colleagues, smile on the inside when their efforts are recognized in media, and even though I may not retweet or share their social media posts about MOC or the ABFM, I promise to maybe favorite a tweet or like a status update.

I cannot contribute financially to this leader’s efforts. However, I can offer a wealth of “Right on!” and, “You tell them, doc!” that I will post online anonymously.  I will also proudly sign their petitions using a fake name.

When the ABFM sends an email stating that there will be “no changes” made to their MOC requirements, I won’t respond to the board in writing, but will fully support this physician leader’s efforts to do so.   I do guarantee that I will defiantly roll my eyes in disgust before deleting said email and continuing about my day.

Lastly, if I am ever asked if I support this physician leader, I will shrug my shoulders in an extremely convincing, “Yes, I do.”

Victoria Dooley is a family physician and can be reached at Northville-Novi Family Medicine.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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