Archive for Education

Dr. Regina Benjamin: A Trailblazer in Medicine Honored with the Samuel Buford Word Award

Dr. Regina Benjamin: A Trailblazer in Medicine Honored with the Samuel Buford Word Award

In the realm of healthcare, the name Dr. Regina Benjamin resonates as a beacon of inspiration and change. As the first African American President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama and the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Benjamin’s illustrious career is marked by a profound commitment to service, advocacy, and addressing healthcare disparities. This year, she is set to be presented with the esteemed Samuel Buford Word Award at the Medical Association’s Annual Meeting.

Trailblazing Leadership

Dr. Regina Benjamin’s journey to becoming a trailblazer in the medical field began in Mobile, Alabama, where she was raised in an environment that valued community service and compassion. Her early exposure to the healthcare profession, through the stories of her grandfather’s dedicated service as a country doctor, ignited a passion that would shape her illustrious career.

After earning her medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Benjamin returned to her hometown, establishing a clinic that catered to the needs of underserved communities. Her dedication to addressing healthcare disparities at the grassroots level earned her widespread recognition and paved the way for her ascent into leadership roles.

Surgeon General of the United States

In 2009, Dr. Regina Benjamin made history as the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, breaking barriers as the first African American woman to hold this prestigious position. During her tenure, Dr. Benjamin focused not only on traditional public health issues but also on the social determinants of health. Recognizing that health outcomes are influenced by factors beyond clinical care, she advocated for holistic approaches that addressed the root causes of disparities, including poverty, education, and access to essential resources.

Her leadership in the face of challenges, such as the H1N1 pandemic and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, showcased her resilience and commitment to public health. Dr. Benjamin’s tenure as Surgeon General left an indelible mark, emphasizing the importance of preventive care, health promotion, and community engagement.

Samuel Buford Word Award: A Legacy of Service

This year, Dr. Regina Benjamin will be honored with the Samuel Buford Word Award at the Medical Association’s Annual Meeting. Established in 1971, the award is named in memory of Samuel Buford Word, M.D., a distinguished physician and former president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional service to humanity beyond the typical scope of medical practice, often at personal sacrifice.

As the highest honor presented by the Medical Association, the Word Award symbolizes a commitment to the values upheld by its namesake. Dr. Benjamin’s receipt of this award not only acknowledges her outstanding achievements in medicine but also underscores her profound dedication to service and the betterment of human health.

A Legacy of Service and Inspiration

Dr. Regina Benjamin’s journey from a community clinic in Mobile to the highest echelons of medical leadership is a testament to her unwavering commitment to service and advocacy. Her groundbreaking achievements have not only paved the way for future generations but have also significantly impacted the trajectory of healthcare in the United States.

As she prepares to receive the Samuel Buford Word Award, Dr. Benjamin’s legacy serves as a reminder that true leadership in medicine extends beyond clinical expertise—it encompasses a passion for equity, a commitment to service, and a tireless pursuit of a healthier and more just society. In honoring Dr. Regina Benjamin, the Medical Association celebrates not only an individual but a legacy that continues to inspire and shape the future of healthcare.

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2023 Prescribing and Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs Conference

2023 Prescribing and Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs Conference

The Medical Association of Alabama hosted its annual meeting on November 18-19, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama. The focal point of this gathering was the renowned “Prescribing and Pharmacology of Controlled Drugs Conference,” marking the 15th year of its occurrence and the 45th presentation of the 12-hour Prescribing and Pharmacology course. This conference attracted a substantial attendance of around three hundred healthcare providers from across the southeastern United States, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas.

The conference served as a vital platform for healthcare professionals to delve into crucial aspects of prescribing practices and the pharmacology of controlled substances. With its long-standing tradition, the event has consistently provided an opportunity for medical practitioners to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field and enhance their understanding of safe and effective prescribing methods.

At the conference, we paid tribute to three individuals who have devoted extensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis in Alabama, Dr. Buddy Smith, Dr. Jerry Harrison, and Dr. Steven Furr. Regrettably, Dr. Furr was unable to be with us due to his demanding role as the newly elected President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

It is often said that noticing an issue is easy, but taking decisive action is the real challenge. Over the course of the last fifteen years, these gentlemen have dedicated forty-seven weekends away from their families to educate healthcare providers on the judicious prescribing of controlled medications. This commitment goes beyond the weekends, as they have also invested countless hours on the planning committee, ensuring not only the coverage of highly relevant topics but also the selection of expert faculty for these courses. Since 2009, over ten thousand prescribers in Alabama have successfully completed the Prescribing course.

We also recognized Richard Tucker, a Consultant with Drug Education Consulting Group in Huntsville, NC, and a former U.S. DEA Special Agent for his outstanding contributions. The association bestowed upon him an award in acknowledgment of his eight years of dedicated service in sharing his time and knowledge at the Prescribing of Controlled Drugs Conferences. Tucker’s expertise and commitment have played a pivotal role in enhancing education and awareness surrounding controlled substances, reflecting his significant impact on the medical community’s understanding and responsible prescribing practices.

We were honored to commemorate their achievements. According to recent data released by the American Medical Association, the total opioid prescriptions dispensed in Alabama during their tenure have decreased by 43.7%, and the total dosage strength, measured in morphine milligram equivalents, has decreased by 55.4%. These statistics bear witness to the tangible impact these individuals have had on alleviating the opioid crisis in Alabama.

On behalf of the Board of Censors of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, and in sincere appreciation of their many years of dedicated leadership, service, and commitment to addressing the opioid crisis in Alabama, we were honored to present them with these well-deserved awards.

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Effective Nov. 18: Gabapentin Changed to Schedule V

Effective Nov. 18: Gabapentin Changed to Schedule V

On May 15, 2019, the Alabama State Committee of Public Health voted to change gabapentin to a Scheduled V medication, effective Nov. 18, 2019. The six-month implementation period was provided to allow time to implement the appropriate changes for a legend medication to move to a scheduled medication.

These changes may include the following: software requirement changes; increase in physical space to store scheduled medications; and changes in procedures for prescribing a controlled substance. Please begin to make the necessary adjustments to meet the implementation date, Nov. 18, 2019.

Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are: cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica and Parepectolin.

Questions should be directed to Nancy Bishop, State Pharmacy Director, Alabama Department of Public Health.

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ROR-AL and ALABAMA 200 Partner for 10th Annual Summer Reading

ROR-AL and ALABAMA 200 Partner for 10th Annual Summer Reading

*Be sure to catch us on Facebook Live today, June 5, beginning at 11:25 a.m. for all the festivities!

MONTGOMERY — ALABAMA 200 and Reach Out and Read-Alabama (ROR-AL) are partnering this summer in celebration of the state’s bicentennial and the 10th Annual Rx for Summer Reading with Alabama, My Home Sweet Home by Charles Ghigna. ROR-AL program sites across the state are providing copies of the books and hosting fun Alabama-themed activities, as well as providing a “prescription” to become involved in the reading program at their local libraries. The statewide Rx for Summer Reading partnership will kick off on Wednesday, June 5, at 11:30 a.m. at Partners in Pediatrics with Jeana Ross, Secretary of Early Childhood Education, reading the book to those in attendance.

“We are proud to support Reach Out and Read–Alabama in providing opportunities for families to promote children’s literacy starting at birth,” said Secretary Ross. “High quality, coordinated early literacy efforts will help us prepare all Alabama children to be successful in school.”

In addition to supporting bicentennial events focused on the state’s rich history, ALABAMA 200 is heavily invested in bolstering education programming initiatives for all citizens. Partnering with ROR-AL speaks to a desire to support future generations, creating a point of pride for all Alabamians.

“As we celebrate the state’s bicentennial, we look back to our past, but we also look to our future,” said Jay Lamar, Executive Director of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission. “We want the next hundred years to be all they can be, which means nurturing a love of learning and achievement in our young people. Reach Out and Read-Alabama certainly does that.”

Charles Ghigna, better known to some as Father Goose, debuted Alabama, My Home Sweet Home, a bicentennial book for young readers at the 2018 Alabama Book Festival. The work features a bear cub named Camellia who accompanies readers as they encounter famous Alabamians like Helen Keller, Rosa Parks and Jesse Owens in their respective time and place in history.

The evidence-based Reach Out and Read program builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. During regular visits with the doctor, families grow to understand the powerful role they play in supporting their children’s development, early language and literacy at home.

Currently, 55 of Alabama’s pediatric practices and clinics serve as ROR-AL program sites in 27 counties, impacting 40 percent of the state’s children under the age of five.

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Pregnancy-Related Deaths Happen Before, During, and Up to a Year After Delivery

Pregnancy-Related Deaths Happen Before, During, and Up to a Year After Delivery

3-in-5 pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented, no matter when they occur.

Pregnancy-related deaths can occur up to a year after a woman gives birth – but whenever they occur, most of these deaths are preventable, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.

Of the 700 pregnancy-related deaths that happen each year in the United States, nearly 31 percent happen during pregnancy, 36 percent happen during delivery or the week after, and 33 percent happen one week to one year after delivery.

Overall, heart disease and stroke caused more than 1 in 3 (34 percent) pregnancy-related deaths. Other leading causes included infections and severe bleeding. The leading causes of death varied by the timing of the pregnancy-related death.

The findings are the result of a CDC analysis of 2011-2015 national data on pregnancy mortality and of 2013-2017 detailed data from 13 state maternal mortality review committees. CDC defines pregnancy-related death as the death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication; a chain of events initiated by pregnancy; or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy.

The data confirm persistent racial disparities: Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women were about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as white women. However, the new analysis also found that most deaths were preventable, regardless of race or ethnicity.

“Ensuring quality care for mothers throughout their pregnancies and postpartum should be among our Nation’s highest priorities,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Though most pregnancies progress safely, I urge the public health community to increase awareness with all expectant and new mothers about the signs of serious pregnancy complications and the need for preventative care that can and does save lives.”

Every pregnancy-related death reflects a web of missed opportunities

The CDC Vital Signs report provides the most current data available from CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. It also summarizes potential prevention strategies from 13 state maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs). MMRCs are multidisciplinary groups of experts that review maternal deaths to better understand how to prevent future deaths.

The committees determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several contributing factors, including access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs. MMRC data suggest that the majority of deaths – regardless of when they occurred – could have been prevented by addressing these factors at multiple levels.

Key findings

  • From 2011-2015, of pregnancy-related deaths:
    • Nearly 1/3 (31 percent) happened during pregnancy.
    • Just over 1/3 (36 percent) happened at delivery or in the week after.
    • Exactly 1/3 (33 percent) happened 1 week to 1 year postpartum.
  • Leading causes of death differed throughout pregnancy and after delivery.
    • Heart disease and stroke caused more than 1 in 3 deaths overall.
    • Obstetric emergencies, like severe bleeding and amniotic fluid embolism (when amniotic fluid enters a mother’s bloodstream), caused most deaths at delivery.
    • In the week after delivery, severe bleeding, high blood pressure, and infection were most common.
    • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle) caused most deaths 1 week to 1 year after delivery.

Working together to prevent maternal deaths

MMRC data demonstrate the need to address multiple contributing factors to prevent deaths during pregnancy, at labor and delivery, and in the postpartum period:

  • Providers can help patients manage chronic conditions and have ongoing conversations about the warning signs of complications.
  • Hospitals and health systems can play an important coordination role, encouraging cross-communication and collaboration among healthcare providers. They can also work to improve the delivery of quality care before, during, and after pregnancy and standardize approaches for responding to obstetric emergencies.
  • States and communities can address social determinants of health, including providing access to housing and transportation. They can develop policies to ensure high-risk women are delivered at hospitals with specialized health care providers and equipment — a concept called “risk-appropriate care.” And they can support MMRCs to review the causes behind every maternal death and identify actions to prevent future deaths.
  • Women and their families can know and communicate about the warning symptoms of complications and note their recent pregnancy history any time they receive medical care in the year after delivery.

CDC is prioritizing the lives of America’s mothers to prevent pregnancy-related death

To read the entire Vital Signs report, visit: For more information about CDC’s work on maternal mortality, please visit:

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Critical Errors in Inhaler Technique Common in Children with Asthma

Critical Errors in Inhaler Technique Common in Children with Asthma

In the first study to evaluate inhaler technique in children hospitalized for asthma – the group at highest risk for complications and death from asthma – researchers found that nearly half of participants demonstrated improper inhaler use, which means they routinely were not taking in the full dose of medication. Adolescents most commonly displayed critical errors in inhaler technique. They also often skipped using a spacer, which is a device that is recommended for use with an inhaler to help the right amount of asthma medication reach the lungs. Findings were published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

“We know that asthma can be well managed in the majority of patients and using your inhaler correctly is a key factor in managing asthma,” says lead author Waheeda Samady, M.D., hospitalist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Improper inhaler technique can contribute to children having uncontrolled asthma and needing to come to the hospital for their asthma. Our study suggests that as healthcare providers we can do a better job showing patients and families the correct inhaler and spacer technique, and checking it frequently to ensure they master it.”

Out of 113 study participants, 2-16 years of age, 42 percent missed at least one critical step in their inhaler technique. Researchers found that 18 percent did not use a spacer device with their inhaler and that these patients were mostly older.

“We see that our adolescent patients, who are transitioning to independent medication management, still need close monitoring to make sure they use their inhaler and spacer appropriately to achieve optimal asthma control,” says Dr. Samady. “Teens may feel that using a spacer is only for younger children, but using a spacer is recommended for adults as well.”

Previous studies have shown that adding a spacer device to an inhaler increases the amount of asthma medication a person takes in from 34 percent to 83 percent.

“Children with asthma can lead full lives if they receive the right medication at the appropriate dose, which is why correct inhaler technique is so crucial,” says Dr. Samady.


Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is conducted through the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute is focused on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge. Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training ground for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital served more than 212,000 children from 49 states and 51 countries.

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Four Medical Students Receive Scholarships during 2019 Annual Meeting

Four Medical Students Receive Scholarships during 2019 Annual Meeting

BIRMINGHAM – This year four medical students received scholarship awards totaling up to $8,000 during the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Medical Foundation of Alabama. The AMASA Medical Student Scholarship Fund was established in 2012 by the Alliance to the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in partnership with the Medical Foundation of Alabama to assist rising senior medical students with the financial responsibilities that inevitably accompany their senior year of medical school. Meet the recipients:

Davis C. Diamond, University of South Alabama College of Medicine

Davis, a native of Georgia, said he has always had a strong connection with the State of Alabama since the majority of his family lives here. In fact, the decision to attend college at The University of Alabama came quite naturally considering his parents met at the college. While he is looking forward to pursuing his chosen specialty of dermatology, no matter where his residency may take him, he and his wife are looking forward to returning to Alabama to work and raise a family.

In the future, Davis hopes to join an academic or clinical practice focusing on complex medical dermatology with an additional career goal to be involved in ongoing research regarding the topics of melanoma, atopic dermatitis and dermatologic manifestations of rheumatologic disease. He has already had the opportunity to participate in a drug development lab for melanoma treatment and hopes to pursue similar endeavors in his career. Davis would also like to continue to mentor and teach as he has during his years in medical school.

Alexandra M. Fry, University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine

Armed with a minor in Spanish, Alexandra has been able to continue to improve her medical Spanish vocabulary by volunteering as a translator in the Equal Access Birmingham Clinic. Her passion for the Spanish culture has blossomed into future goals of using her voice to better connect with patients and with a more diverse population to improve the existing health care inequality. Last summer, she traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to perform medical research on Chagas Disease giving her true insights in understanding the grassroots of medical study by immersing herself in another culture.

Alexandra is also interested in pursuing a new medical specialty with Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Understanding how our population is becoming older, and this specialty combines internal medicine, neurology and physical therapy, Alexandra said she is excited to conduct more research in this field of study.

Christopher A. Johnson, University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine

For Christopher, a native of Dothan, medicine was not the family specialty. Unlike his peers who were raised in families of physicians and expected to follow in the family business, Christopher was raised in a family of musicians. His father was a music minister in Birmingham and his mother a music teacher in Dothan who worked three jobs to ensure he and his three sisters had every opportunity life had to offer. Instead, he was surrounded by “some of the best men who also happened to be physicians” who invested in him personally and academically. He credits these role models for shaping him into the “man I am today and the physician I am striving to become. I am not inspired to carry on the legacy of these men in my career as a physician and hope to bless the next generation with the same encouragement and guidance I was fortunate enough to receive.”

Christopher hopes to pursue a career in family medicine with a fellowship in sports medicine. In the past two-and-a-half years, he has completed his pre-clinical work, begun his clinical rotations in Montgomery and married. Now, he is looking forward to using these opportunities to better the world around him.

Jeremy K. Prince, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Auburn

Jeremy, a native of Aliceville, said he believes “a career in family medicine is the best avenue because family physicians have the ability to be deeply involved in the community.” And, the community is very important to Jeremy, who has traveled across Alabama and witnessed firsthand how our state’s health care issues have taken a severe toll on our citizens.

One of Jeremy’s mentors at VCOM said Jeremy’s positive attitude and leadership skills make him a true professional and role model for his classmates, and his ability to encourage and support others has created a positive force in the school and the community at large.

Donations to the Scholarship Program can be sent to AMASA Treasurer Mary Beth Lloyd, 5949 Crestwood Circle, Birmingham, AL 35212. Donations may now be made directly to the AMASA Scholarship Fund from retirement accounts.

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MOC UPDATE: A Progress Report

MOC UPDATE: A Progress Report

March 22, 2019: The Medical Association is continuing to work with various stakeholders to make improvements in the MOC process, and we would like to offer a progress report from the American Board of Medical Specialties and its Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission. The final report is out, and member boards are beginning to implement Commission recommendations.

Perspectives on the Vision Commission Process

Sometimes You Just Don’t Know by Donald Palmisano describes his experience as a member of the Commission and thoughts on the Commission’s final report.

ABMS Member Board innovative assessments gain momentum in 2019

ABMS Member Boards’ Innovative Assessments Gain Momentum in 2019 describes progress by several ABMS Member Boards towards transitioning from traditional exams to longitudinal assessment programs.

Specific ABMS Member Boards mentioned include those representing anesthesiology, family medicine, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, ob/gyn, pediatrics, psychiatry and neurology, radiology, and the seven boards participating in ABMS’ CertLink program – colon and rectal surgery, dermatology, medical genetics and genomics, nuclear medicine, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, pathology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

For those of you wondering, “what’s longitudinal assessment?” – Longitudinal assessment approaches involve shorter assessments of specific content repeatedly over a period of time and often online, combining principles of adult learning with modern technology to promote learning, retention, and transfer of information. (For example, the ABA MOCA Minute includes 30 questions per calendar quarter, delivered through email, portal, or app.) Through this process, concepts and information are reinforced so that knowledge is retained and accumulated gradually. Overall, these programs allow physicians to assess their knowledge, fill knowledge gaps, and demonstrate their proficiency. They may offer both time and cost savings to board-certified physicians by reducing or eliminating the need for study courses, travel to exam centers, and time away from practice.

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STUDY: HPV-Related Cancer Rates Affect Vaccine Uptake in Alabama

STUDY: HPV-Related Cancer Rates Affect Vaccine Uptake in Alabama

MOBILE (March 19, 2019) — USA Health researchers studying HPV vaccination rates in Alabama have made a surprising discovery: Counties with higher rates of HPV-related cancers also showed higher HPV vaccination rates, according to research presented recently at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

“It was exactly the opposite of what we expected,” said Dr. Jennifer Young Pierce, who heads Cancer Control and Prevention at USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. “We found that the higher the rate of cancer in the county, the higher the rate of vaccination.”

The research was one of 12 studies accepted for oral or poster presentations at the national meeting.

The study sought to explore the reasons why vaccination rates for human papillomavirus (HPV) vary so widely among counties in Alabama, from 33 percent to 66 percent. Researchers expected to find lower vaccination rates in rural counties with fewer physicians and in counties with low incomes, which would have been consistent with national reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the data showed little difference in HPV vaccine uptake between urban and rural counties, and between affluent and poor ones. The seven counties with the highest HPV vaccination rates were both rural and low income, Pierce said. “The main takeaway is that perception of high cancer risk overcomes traditional disparities that can affect HPV vaccine uptake.”

Meanwhile, the study also found higher HPV vaccination rates among residents who receive government-funded health care and the highest HPV rates in some counties that have no pediatricians.

The HPV vaccine protects against a variety of cancers in men and women, including cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal and head and neck. The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11-12, with catch-up to age 26.


About Mitchell Cancer Institute

As the region’s only academic cancer center, USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute combines NIH-funded scientific research with comprehensive cancer care serving communities across southern Alabama, southeast Mississippi and portions of northwest Florida. With three locations, more than 50 clinical trials, and five support groups, the Mitchell Cancer Institute guides patients and their families from the moment of diagnosis through survivorship.

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MOC Update: ABMS Plans Implementation of Board Certification Recommendations

MOC Update: ABMS Plans Implementation of Board Certification Recommendations

March 12, 2019 CHICAGO – The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Board of Directors plans to address the recommendations shared in the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission’s final report. Presented to the ABMS Board in mid-February, the Commission’s final report is the culmination of research, testimony and public feedback from stakeholders throughout the Boards and greater health care communities. The Commission took all of this input into consideration, developing a set of recommendations to help continuing certification evolve into a meaningful and relevant program bringing value to a physician’s practice and meeting the highest standard of quality patient care.

The ABMS Board reviewed the Commission’s final report in detail during its February meeting, assessing how best to address the recommendations outlined. The Board agreed to the following as necessary first steps in implementing the Commission’s findings:

  • Establishment of the “Achieving the Vision for Continuing Board Certification” Oversight Committee charged with directing the implementation strategy. This committee will seek guidance from the ABMS’ new Stakeholder Council and various stakeholders in the continuing certification process throughout the implementation.
  • Creation of the following four Collaborative Task Forces that will include representatives from professional and state societies and other external stakeholders, focusing on the following areas identified in the Commission’s report:

o Remediation pathways
o Professionalism
o Advancing Practice
o Information and Data Sharing

  • Agreement of all 24 ABMS Member Boards to commit to longitudinal or other formative assessment strategies and offer alternatives to the highly-secure, point-in-time examinations of knowledge.
  • Commitment by ABMS to develop new, integrated standards for continuing certification programs by 2020. The standards will address the Commission recommendations for flexibility in knowledge assessment and advancing practice, feedback to diplomates and consistency.
  • Establishment of a meeting of the ABMS/Council of Medical Specialty Societies joint Board Leadership to ensure full specialty society engagement in building the road map defined by the Commission report especially with regard to the role of continuing certification in advancing clinical practice.

The Commission’s report affirmed that it is the role of the Boards to make summative decisions about continuing the certification of a physician based on a portfolio of information. However, the Commission called for the Boards to create formative processes that offer opportunities for learning and improvement as well as remediation when necessary before summative decisions are made. And, while the report itself didn’t comment directly on the work the Boards have already undertaken to enhance their programs, many of the Commission’s recommendations affirmed those actions, most notably those referencing alternative formative assessment strategies and improving communications with key stakeholders and diplomates.

The Medical Association has been active on the MOC issue, through both its MOC Study Committee and advocacy at the national and state levels. Below is the official statement on the “Vision Initiative” from MOC Study Committee Chairman Dr. Greg Ayers:

“The Medical Association of the State of Alabama’s MOC Study Committee supports a voluntary process for board certification in medical specialties and a departure from the sometimes punitive approach toward certification taken by some American Board of Medical Specialties’ specialty boards. This process must maintain high standards for professionalism and encourage lifelong learning that is clinically relevant to patient care within physicians’ individual practices. The MOC Study Committee believes the ABMS various specialty boards should continue efforts to improve upon and ensure inexpensive, accessible options for increasing the breadth and scope of physicians’ skills and knowledge so they may best serve their patients; however, those efforts should never, of themselves, hinder, obstruct nor supersede the actual provision of care. The ABMS Boards should collaborate to pursue implementation of reciprocal, longitudinal pathways for multi-specialty diplomates. The continuing physician specialty certification process of the future should not include the current high-stakes examination and burdensome, duplicative components of Maintenance of Certification. Given physicians’ support for self-regulation, the MOC Study Committee calls upon the ABMS Boards to fulfill its duty to administer specialty board certification in a manner that assists physicians in continuing to improve the quality of care patients receive.”

Greg Ayers, M.D., Chairman, MOC Study Committee

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