I shared with the Boards of ABIM and the ABIM Foundation at their June 2023 meeting that this will be my last year in leadership at ABIM and the Foundation. I plan to retire at the end of September 2024. It has been an incredible privilege to lead this storied organization at such an important and transformative time.
You may know that the first 30 years of my career were devoted to the practice of internal medicine and geriatrics, caring for patients in the community in which I lived. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to lead ABIM. The organization today is very different from the one I joined as CEO in 2013, and bears even less resemblance to the one I began serving as a Director in 2001.
At the start of my tenure as CEO, I believed that ABIM and the ABIM Foundation do important work—ten years later, I believe that even more. We went from thinking of ourselves as a “standard-setting organization” to recognizing that we are the organization through which the profession sets standards for itself, and we have continued to advocate for the role of professionalism in making health care better. This organizational transformation helped us build authentic connections with the community of physicians and genuinely co-create our program.
I am proud of the work we have done together: by working in partnership with the community, we have evolved our program dramatically, offering multiple pathways for people to demonstrate that they have stayed current in their field—pathways that integrate more readily into the already too-full lives of internists and internal medicine subspecialists.
Practicing medicine is heroic and hard work; we have daily opportunities to use our knowledge in service of our patients, and we face the ongoing challenge of keeping up at a time when we have so many new ways to help them. Our patients now have access to some of the very same information we do, and they often need to rely on our skills and expertise to make sense of it.
All of this is happening while the system in which we practice is transforming in so many ways, including corporate consolidation and dramatic losses of professional autonomy. We have worked hard at ABIM to transform the program so that it imposes less burden than it did before—everything from seamless credit of CME for MOC points to the new Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA®), a more formative assessment experience that provides greater flexibility and convenience than ever before. We will continue to listen to the community and enhance our programs to do everything we can to minimize burden while being faithful to the need for a valid, meaningful ongoing assessment program.
I hope ABIM can be part of the legitimate pride doctors can and should have about the critical work we do for our patients and communities, a way to celebrate the hard work and achievement that belong to our profession. We know we still have work to do in our continuing certification program to evoke the same pride that doctors feel upon first receiving their certificate. The career journey of internists and internal medicine subspecialists is one with enormous impact for the individuals whose lives we touch, and recognizing the milestones of ongoing diligence and study is something our community can and should celebrate together. Patients deeply value board certification and place tremendous trust in the community of board certified physicians. It is our collective knowledge and commitment to staying current that ensure they receive the best care possible.
The ABIM Board of Directors has already appointed a search committee, chaired by Robert Roswell, MD, FACP, FACC, Chair-Elect of the Board, and comprising a diverse group of ABIM Directors, ABIM Foundation Trustees and other colleagues. We plan to share more about that process later in the fall. I am confident they will find the leader the internal medicine community needs to continue the progress we have made together over the past few years.
And what’s next for me? I can say with confidence that I will definitely miss working here. But I will never figure out what else I might do with my life besides working if my wife Jane and I don’t retire. So, after a career spanning nearly 50 years, including 30 years in community practice, that is our plan. We are fortunate to enjoy our health, and we have a 19-month-old grandson who has made the unwise decision to live in LA—a bit too far for a quick pop-in from Philadelphia—so we hope to spend more time with him (and maybe even his parents).
But until then, I expect to spend the next year continuing to listen to the community and leading our ongoing work to make the program better. I am grateful for the many ways that all of you have made that possible.
Thank you for all you do to keep your patients and communities safe, healthy and thriving, and for your continued investment in the betterment of health care for all. I look forward to working with you in the coming year.
Richard J. Baron, MD, MACP
President and CEO
American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation