Medical certification organizations should be “relevant, responsive, and innovative,” according to Terry Kowalenko, MD, FACEP, new President of the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM), who was elected in July and will serve for the 2017–2018 term.
Dr. Kowalenko is professor and chair of emergency medicine at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan; president and chief medical officer of the Beaumont Medical Group; and senior vice president of Beaumont Health. He has been a member of the ABEM Board of Directors since July 2010 and was elected to the Executive Committee in 2014.
Dr. Kowalenko recently responded in writing to ACEP Now’s questions on his goals as ABEM President and the organization’s approach to certification.
Q: What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenge as ABEM President this coming year?
A: The biggest challenge ABEM faces will be directing a focused conversation about the importance of certification for emergency physicians. ABEM certification is the most valuable professional credential an emergency physician can obtain. Leveraging the strength of that credential to limit “merit badge” requirements and to optimize physician reimbursement through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 are high priorities for me and the ABEM Board.
ABEM is committed to remaining relevant, responsive, and innovative. To that end, we are convening a special Board retreat and a maintenance of certification (MOC) summit of emergency medicine stakeholder organizations to explore the development of alternative approaches to MOC and, in particular, the ConCert Examination. ABEM needs to guide the emergency medicine community through a conversation about offering a sound option while still allowing emergency physicians to take the current ConCert Examination if they prefer. Any option must be sufficiently rigorous while also addressing concerns that emergency physicians have expressed. The ABEM MOC program has never been static. It has been constantly revised to increase the relevance and value to emergency physicians while adhering to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) requirements. I think ABEM has been very successful in doing that. Part of that success has come from emergency physicians providing constructive feedback to ABEM about the program. We really need the specialty and emergency physicians to be partners in this process of revision and innovation.
Q: MOC has been under fire in some states and at the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates. What’s ABEM’s take?