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A Message of Gratitude from Dr. Richard Baron

November 27, 2019  |  Posted by ABIM  |  Celebrating Physicians, Physician Feedback, Why I Serve

During this season of Thanksgiving, I wanted to extend my sincerest gratitude to ABIM Board Certified physicians. There is no doubt in my mind:

You have made us better. 

When I think back to my time in community practice, it was always the patients we took care of who had the best ideas for how to improve our practice. They had concrete ideas for how to manage our office flow, what options to have on our website or voicemail. And, of course, they offered those in ways that allowed us to take better care of them.

It was the substantive connections to my patients, who lived in the same community I do, that helped me find meaning in my work, despite dealing with all the hassles of prior authorization, DME approvals and just getting through the day. 

Today, doctors—like everyone else—are operating in precarious times. Discussions in comments sections, at the dinner table and even in the exam room are fraught with anxiety about who and what to believe.  The national political conversation assures that people will hear very different “facts” depending on whom they listen to, and folks are retreating to find some sense of stability among those who they already know and trust.

At ABIM, we know what it’s like to lose trust, and that the only way forward is to connect on a different level than we have before. You have responded to our sincere efforts to make this more meaningful connection by participating in surveys, town halls, focus groups, and user-testing. We’ve heard your heartfelt—and sometimes heartbreaking—stories in voicemails, letters and tweets.

I truly feel that we aren’t just building a better certification program, but also a better–and stronger–internal medicine community. One that seeks to understand each other’s goals and barriers, and one that shares the common purpose of improving health care for the public, our patients, and those we love.

You’ve advocated for more choice, relevance and convenience in maintaining your board certification.

As a result, we launched a new Collaborative Maintenance Pathway in partnership with the American College of Cardiology in 2019. We continued working with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to launch the ABIM/ASCO Learning & Assessment in 2020. And just this month, we announced our intentions to launch a longitudinal assessment option in 2022 and hosted the annual Liaison Committee on Certification and Recertification to seek guidance from the 26 medical specialty societies that represent you.

You’ve encouraged us to reaffirm our values as an organization by committing to promoting equity and inclusion in health care.

We’ve evolved our governance recruitment practices to intentionally seek out underrepresented members of the medical community, including from different practice settings, regions, ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds so that the governance of ABIM looks like all of us.

I’ve personally committed to no longer participate in speaking events featuring all-male panels, known colloquially as “manels.” Furthermore, we as an organization have committed to hosting speakers that represent a diversity of experiences and perspectives.

You’ve also brought to the forefront issues of particular concern for women physicians, and we realize that it’s time to step up our support for pregnant and nursing doctors during our examinations to create a more equitable playing field.   

Nothing we have done would have been possible without physicians speaking up, speaking out and making their needs known in an increasingly complicated health care environment. When you raise your voice, it’s not just for the benefit of one but for the benefit of the whole community. You have done it for us just as I know you have done it for your patients.

Thank you for your willingness to connect—with your colleagues, with your patients, with us.

In this new chapter of our organization’s history, at a time when all of us need the wisdom of those who surround and strengthen us, we need the connection with community more than ever.

Wishing you a peaceful and grateful Thanksgiving.

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