Helen L. Chen, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer of Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston and Chair of the ABIM Geriatric Medicine Board Exam-Writing Committee. She is participating in the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA®) in Internal Medicine.
I am board certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. As is common with so many of my colleagues serving in multiple roles, I have a lot on my plate. And like them, I want to stay current in my medical knowledge and provide the best care for my patients. ABIM has created a new assessment option for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) that is more convenient and manageable for me and many of my colleagues, and has a meaningful impact on my life and practice as a physician.
Because I maintain three certificates, I seem to be frequently in the position of “studying” for another recertification exam. While the study/review process reveals areas in which I have knowledge deficits, I generally have little retention of new information after the exam, particularly if it is in an area beyond my day-to-day work. Studying was an additional “job” that was difficult to manage in the setting of work and family life.
In the last few years, I renewed two of my certificates through the traditional, 10-year MOC exam, and the third—Internal Medicine—was coming due this year. At the same time, ABIM had launched the Longitudinal Knowledge Assessment (LKA®) in 12 disciplines, including Internal Medicine.
Now, I had a choice. A colleague had raved about the LKA process and encouraged me to try it. I am so glad that I did. The questions are clinically relevant and the structure of the assessment mirrors how we practice: we use available resources and “look things up”. The immediate feedback is helpful and highly educational, and spurred me to read more on a few topics.
Part of what I like about the LKA is the flexibility it provides by offering questions in batches over a five-year period: each quarter, ABIM releases 30 new questions which you can answer as you have time. The option to complete a few questions every week made the process easy and, dare I say, pleasant. A nice bonus is that you earn 0.2 MOC points for each correctly answered question, which is helpful toward getting the 100 MOC points required every five years when there are so many other things to keep up with.
The LKA approach allows for “life happens” circumstances when you can’t get to some questions, and saves the time and trouble of studying and sitting for an all-day exam. I like the flexibility of managing this at my own pace.
While many of us find the high stakes MOC exam both onerous and daunting, the adjectives I would use to describe the LKA process are painless and educational. I encourage every certified physician to consider the LKA to maintain their certification!
LKA enrollment for the 2023 assessment year opens December 1, 2022. Physicians participating will continue to be reported as certified throughout their five-year cycle as long as they are meeting the LKA Participation Requirement and any other Maintenance of Certification requirements. A question history will be provided after six months of participation, and quarterly score reports offered after five quarters.