What Goals Do We Share as an Internal Medicine Community?

Without a shared purpose, there can be no true collaboration.

Mark Bonchek has spoken about seismic shifts occurring in the relationships between organizations and the people they serve.

“Customers are no longer just consumers,” Bonchek wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “they’re co-creators. They aren’t just passive members of an audience; they are active members of a community … They don’t want to be at the other end of your [purpose] for. They want to be right there with you. Purpose needs to be shared.”

In discerning shared purpose, organizations and individuals uncover the shared values that motivate them and inspire them to collaborate.

Members of ABIM’s governance and I believe that without first working with members of the internal medicine community to uncover our community’s shared purpose, it will be difficult—if not impossible—to engage physicians in the work necessary to develop a more meaningful and relevant credential. That credential must ultimately reflect and advance the values that bind physicians together.

What is the internal medicine community’s shared purpose? What do we believe in?

In February, I suggested that we likely agree on the following ideals and standards:

  • We are committed to keeping up with changes in medical knowledge and practice.
  • We incorporate the values and preferences of patients in our clinical decisions.
  • We measure and improve our performance and delivery of care.
  • We ensure that the care we deliver is safe.

Starting with this premise, ABIM staff and governance spoke with a number of physicians and medical leaders about the community’s shared purpose, convened an Internal Medicine Summit in April. We also sent a survey to a small group of diplomates and have had multiple individual conversations with ABIM diplomates.

Responses from surveys, conversations and facilitated meetings indicate that there is strong support for a shared purpose that reflects a physician’s commitment to applying knowledge and improving care throughout their career – more than 88% of surveyed diplomates and 61% of medical leaders agreed strongly with this statement.

Other statements, included below, have also received support from the majority of those diplomates who have weighed in so far.

We are now seeking your help to think these statements through.

What do you think of these shared purpose statements? Do you agree with the general sentiment they convey? Which do you prefer? What would you change?

  • Shared Purpose Statement #1: Physicians apply knowledge and improve care throughout their careers.

  • Shared Purpose Statement #2: Physicians promote, increase and assure expertise throughout their careers.

  • Shared Purpose Statement #3: Physicians stay current in knowledge and care throughout their careers.

To help us review your thoughts, ABIM has developed a brief online questionnaire. [Note: This survey is now closed]

I encourage you all to please fill it out and let us know what you think before the survey link closes on August 7.

ABIM governance members will use your feedback to refine the statement that you think best reflects our community’s values and then share the results. We hope that the ultimate statement reflects the diverse community of physicians, patients, societies, health care institutions and others.

ABIM is also starting to engage community members on ways in which to strengthen its credential, and I will continue to share updates with you as we move forward with that work. Ultimately, our intention is for ABIM’s programs to help advance the greater community’s purpose and values. Going forward, there will be ongoing opportunities for your involvement as we continue this dialogue with the internal medicine community. I encourage you to subscribe to the Transforming ABIM blog to receive regular updates, and I also hope you will continue to share your feedback with me directly at rbaronmd@abim.org.

Thank you in advance for offering your ideas and input and for helping us determine a shared purpose.