Well, well, well, this little blog got a mention in the New York Times Well health care blog last evening in a post entitled "Board Certification and Fees Anger Doctors" by Joshua Krisch. Too bad what really upsets doctors is not certification, but the proprietary RE-certification monopoly known as the ABMS "Maintenance of Certification" (MOC) program. At least the post includes a dashing public relations photo of Richard Baron, MD, the president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) sporting a neatly-pressed casual sport coat with a hipster purple shirt while he appears to be earnestly conversing with a "board service" representative.
While the article fairly disclosed some of the issues that bothers physicians, it was remarkably devoid of what really irks physicians, especially the egregious and corrupt financial transactions of the ABIM uncovered on this blog in December 2014. Follow-up investigations have found that the ABIM repeatedly funneled $30.6 million to their separate non-profit, the ABIM Foundation that is lead by the same officers between 1998 and 2007. It appeared this transfer of "grants" was used to supplement an investment portfolio that had already exceeding $55 million and included a $2.3 million condominium complete with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes S-class town car, and leadership conferences at 5-star hotels. All while the ABIM was bleeding cash and growing a deficit from negative $10 million to negative $43 million.
More recently, even more concerning allegations regarding the ABIM's financial and tax disclosures were revealed by veteran journalist, Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek. So it goes without saying that I was disappointed that Mr. Krisch failed to mention or investigate any of these financial dealings of the ABIM in his reporting.
Clearly, it appears journalists need Maintenance of Journalism Certification, too.
You see, the public demands such certification. After all, an Institute of Journalism Report published in 1999 showed that journalism errors contribute to 999,000 over-treatments and approximately 5000 deaths each year. Beyond quality, subscribers need to be assured they're getting "value" from their costly annual New York Times subscription.
Fortunately, a new American Board of Journalism Specialties (ABJS) exists to assure quality journalism that not only meets, but exceeds, societal standards. The ABJS has assembled a whole host of subspecialty member boards with salaries commensurate with the medical subspecialty board executives to establish credentials for each category of US journalism. These include the American Board of Health Care Journalism (ABHCJ), the American Board of Finance Journalism (ABFJ), The American Board of Business Journalism (ABBJ), the American Board of Entertainment Journalism (ABEJ) , the American Board of Sports Section Journalism (ABSSJ), and the American Board of Weather Reporting Journalism (ABWRJ) and the American Board of Style Journalism (ABSJ). Each member board nominate speciality advisors who provide content for the once-every-ten-year high-stakes secure examination that assures quality reporting in each journalism category. Literature supporting the benefits for Maintenance of Journalism Certification is second to none. While the costs are different for each category of journalism, they harmonize well with prices set by the American Board of Internal Medicine's MOC program. Furthermore, the examination occurs in industry-standard computerized Pearson Vue Testing Centers that promise comfort and security with the finest of palm reads and cavity searches prior to testing.
Our most recent Maintenance of Journalism Certification (MOJC) results shows that only 78% of journalists pass the ABJS's recertification test on their first try, demonstrating the rigorous nature of the testing. Don't worry, though, 96% of journalists ultimately pass their examination. Journalists who fail just have to attend a Board Review course developed by their respective ABJS member board to assure they are fed the correct answers for a just a few thousand dollars more. Once completed, repeat testing fees are kept at a reasonable $750. And for those who fail? Well, we're really not sure what happens to them.
The secure exam tests mastery of mathematics through calculus, statistics, English Literature, and Written Composition. Strunck and White's "Elements of Style" are extensively utilized to assure the highest of testing standards. Journalists undergoing this mandatory evaluation every ten years can rest assured that each of the secure examination questions have been carefully vetted using psychometric testing techniques. Because of the time, energy, and golf games missed to create these questions, paired with the need to maintain the utmost secrecy in fairness to all, divulging test questions to other journalists is strictly forbidden. In the event of such a breach, the ANJS will have no choice but to use every legal means to punish the journalist, resulting in suspension or revocation of the journalist's writing credentials and ability to practice their trade. Freedom of the press in such a circumstance means nothing.
With the explosion of online content of varying quality, the public has demanded that continuous learning take place. Beginning in January, 2014, a new, even more rigorous continuous certification process has been developed that incorporates Practice Improvement Modules (PIM) in addition to the secure examination. With this program, journalist will have the option to "pay-as-you go" every two years or cough up the full re-certification fee up front to assure they will be listed on CertificationMatters.org as "Meeting Journalism Standards." PIM will require that journalists participate in survey collection of colleagues' assessment of their workplace and worth to society. Questions concerning quality of their fax machine, computer power, and diversity of reporting to avoid racial, gender, or age bias will be included. Survey results are transmitted non-securely to the ABJS website so the information can then be purchased by concerned stakeholders like ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, HBO, Huffington Post, Style Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and the Leapfrog Journalism group to censor stories that might not meet journalistic professionalism standards. In addition, a portion of journalist's testing fees will help fund the Choosing Wisely Investment Club that has been looking for a really nice condominium in SoHo.
Finally, such a journalism certification process will harmonize nicely with the unproven ABMS Maintenance of Certification program that is slated to be incorporated as a medical registry in the Medicare SGR Repeal Bill, H.R. 2.
Same concept. Same money. All for the "public good."
"Ridiculous," you say? "Outrageous?"
Now you know why doctors are angry.