American Board of Family Medicine Helping Physicians Avoid Abandoning Professionalism

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Physicians are increasingly reporting burnout causing concerning because burnout makes them less empathetic and able to care for their patients. A recently published article details additional steps the ABFM is taking to study burnout among its Diplomates and strategic investments being made with the aim to both reduce burden and uncertainty.

Physicians are increasingly reporting burnout causing concern because burnout makes them less empathetic and able to care for their patients. Physicians are also frustrated with the pace of change in the healthcare system and are scared about perceived risk to both income and autonomy. Drs. Robert Phillips, Keith Stelter, Carlos Jáen, Jim Kennedy and Jim Puffer are pleased to announce a purposeful transformation effort underway at the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). The ABFM is taking additional steps to study burnout among its Diplomates and is making strategic investments with the aim to both reduce burden and uncertainty.

Physician certification and recertification add to the frustration, making certifying boards natural targets. A decade ago the 24 boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties committed to moving beyond simply taking a test at the end of training to a continuous process of evaluating and improving care. The American Board of Family Medicine was the first certifying board to require periodic retesting, and was a leader in requiring practice assessment and improvement.

Physician certification boards are an intrinsic part of medical professionalism, and the public is their key stakeholder. They are “of the profession, but for the public,” offering some assurance about physician competency and providing a means of professional self-regulation. Despite these important functions for sustaining professional standing, certifying boards have become a focus of backlash by burned out physicians. Certifying boards have an opportunity to support physicians in improving the quality and safety of health care, and appeal to physicians’ intrinsic motivation for doing so. This effort also aligns with powerful extrinsic pressures, including a very rapid shift to value-based payments that require physicians to measure, report and improve quality.

Rather than retreat from physician frustration, the ABFM is listening carefully to family physicians and making strategic investments to evolve. It is the first certifying board to launch a registry designed to support physicians’ capacity for quality assessment, improvement, data-reporting requirements, and population management. It also supports more effective measure development and research. The ABFM aims to help physicians maintain the privilege of professionalism by helping them continuously earn it.

The full article can be found here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19488289.2016.1216020

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Jane Ireland

Jane Ireland
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