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ABIM Board Certification Helps Me Provide Better Care

April 6, 2018  |  Posted by Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP  |  Celebrating Physicians, MOC, Physician Feedback

I’m very proud to be board certified in Internal Medicine. This certification distinguishes me from others in the field who are not certified and who may not be working as diligently to keep up with the latest medical knowledge. Maintaining my certification makes me feel that I’m keeping myself current in medicine, and shows that I’m practicing in a way in which my peers and the major professional societies would approve of.

While the ABIM Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process does take time and dedication, I find a lot of benefit in the process. I review guidelines for the most common scenarios that I see in practice, but I also study the management guidelines for things that I don’t see very often. I think this is helpful regardless of whether a question pertaining to that given scenario appears on the exam or not because if I encounter it in practice and I don’t remember what to do, at least I can remember where I saw the information. I can then use the same resources that helped me to prepare for MOC to care for actual patients.

I learned first-hand that all the time I put into reviewing materials as I worked to maintain my ABIM certification helps me take better care of my patients. I once had a patient who I sent for a work-up for blood in the urine. As part of that work up, he had a CT scan of his kidneys and bladder.  His bladder and kidneys were normal. However, his CT scan showed that he had about 20 pancreatic cysts. As part of my preparation to maintain my ABIM certification, I recalled having read about the management of pancreatic cysts, so I was able to go back and assess his cancer risk and determine what I needed to do next for him. My patient had enough features in the CT scan of concern that he needed to have further evaluation with an endoscopic ultrasound, so I reached out to my GI colleague who agreed and subsequently saw him. It turned out that my patient was at higher risk for pancreatic cancer and, as a result, he will need to be closely followed with MRIs of his pancreas and by my GI colleague. This case illustrates how studying for the exam provided me with knowledge that impacted my practice of medicine.

I take pride in being an ABIM certified physician because I invest a lot of time and effort to learn the latest recommendations and knowledge about medicine so that I can then provide better care for my patients. This is an exciting time to be a doctor because there’s an explosion of knowledge and more and more opportunities to recognize and intervene early. ABIM certification is one of the mechanisms that helps me better learn and apply that knowledge.