The medical community has continually impressed us with their ability to confront difficulties, act quickly, and propel forward, especially over the last 18 months. We felt this even more strongly after attending the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Conference 2021. This year’s conference gave us insights into what’s happening in this community and among our healthcare partners today. We spent time reflecting on what we learned and want to share a few important points with you.
1. Relieving Burnout with Longitudinal Assessments
Burnout can affect people across all industries, but how can we help prevent it? During “Addressing Physician Well-Being and Burnout—The Present and Future Role of Continuing Certification,” we heard an interesting perspective on how continuing certification can be used to prevent physician burnout. Medical professionals indicated that high-stakes exams are one of the many sources of pressure contributing to burnout and that one way to address this is to move away from the high-stakes recertification model.
One speaker described how longitudinal assessment is more convenient and helps mitigate the stress of recertification. We couldn’t agree more, and we can certainly help. Longitudinal assessment not only allows professionals to test on their own time anywhere they need to, but it also improves long-term knowledge retention.
2. Creating Best Practices for Longitudinal Assessment Programs
With longitudinal assessment programs on the rise, ABMS and the Committee on Continuing Certification (3C) recognized the scarcity of best practices for implementing these programs and set out to fill that gap.
In “ABMS Draft Continuing Certification Standards: Public Comment Update,” we learned about the three workgroups that were established to analyze these programs.
- Program Design: An assessment purpose framework will guide organizations to define the major program components, including what is intended to be measured and how those results should be interpreted.
- Security: Dozens of potential security strategies could address security compromise. This group will explain each strategy and outline findings on effectiveness, ease of implementation, and user experience that informed best practice recommendations.
- Scoring and Reporting: This group will consider a series of questions as they determine best practices for scoring and reporting, particularly for formative feedback. For example, what kind of feedback is most useful to candidates? Is it item-level feedback, confidence and relevance ratings, or strength and weakness identification through sub-score reporting? What drives the most learning?
We support the goal to uphold professional testing standards while encouraging innovation, and we look forward to seeing the best practice guidelines that emerge.
3. Addressing Healthcare Disparities through DEI Practices
Our final takeaway, from “Addressing Health Care Disparities and the Role of the ABMS Community,” is the importance of creating an action plan around diversity, equity, and inclusion (also referred to as DEI). The healthcare industry can incorporate DEI in staff training, continuing certification credits, and quality improvement (QI). But this has us thinking about additional ways to improve DEI in assessment. DEI practices can be included in the beginning of the assessment process—by training item writers and enlisting a diverse panel of subject matter experts to review content—but they should also be built into test delivery and reporting.
We’re walking away from the ABMS conference with ideas to consider and readily apply. We are a proud partner of ABMS and thank them for putting on an incredible conference!
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