The punitive evolution of board certification

December 31, 2012 by MassDevice

By Westby G. Fisher, MD, FACC

Westby Fisher

Once upon a time, doctors looked forward to the opportunity to become "board certified" in their specialty of interest in medicine.  Time was plentiful.  In the lost days of Never-never Land, doctors would leave their office at lunch time while their secretaries manned the phones.   Patients still got their appointments while doctors had time to play golf on Wednesdays.  It was an idyllic time with plenty of time to read, brush up on the latest innovations in medicine, attend scientific conferences, and still be able to make a living.  Board certification was simple: study hard, take a test, and move on.  Patient care didn't suffer.

Sign up to get our free newsletters delivered straight to your inbox

These days, Never-never Land no longer exists.  Time is the most valuable commodity for doctors now as they see more patients in less time than ever before.  Pushed to perform in an era of exploding health care costs, the days of leisurely lunches, unlimited patient appointments, and easy access to caregivers have given way to a frenetic pace of 7-minute appointments, decreased length of stays, productivity quotas, and cuts in ancillary personnel as costs are shaved.  At the same time, regulatory burdens have exploded.

With this explosion of regulatory bodies has evolved a network of licensure bodies so complex that doctors have a hard time keeping up with the numerous affiliations, acronyms and name changes for these bodies.  Worst of all, fewer have time to perform their requirements without impacting patient care.