Do you need to recertify? You do—every 10 years—if you are a
general psychiatrist originally board certified in 1994 or later and you want
to maintain your board certification.
This year the second class of general psychiatrists to receive their
original board certification after the 1994 cutoff will be required to take a
closed-book, proctored exam on a computer administered by the American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) to maintain certification.
The ABPN does not require general psychiatrists certified prior to 1994 to
take the exam to maintain their certification.
There are no lifetime certificates for geriatric, forensic, and addiction
psychiatry. Time-limited certifications in geriatric psychiatry began in 1991,
with the first expirations occurring in 2001; in addiction psychiatry they
began in 1993, with the first expirations occurring in 2003.
Deborah Hales, M.D., APA's director of Education and Career Development,
said the move to require recertification is part of an effort across American
medicine to demonstrate the quality and competence of the nation's physicians
to policymakers, regulatory agencies, and the public.
"Failing to recertify in the modern era is likely to be professional
suicide," Hales warned. "The entire house of medicine is requiring
this as a way to gain back public trust."
She said that even psychiatrists who were certified prior to 1994 are not
immune from the movement toward "maintenance of certification"
since many state boards of medicine may require physicians who do not
recertify in their specialty to take a state medical board exam to maintain
"This is coming," Hales said. And, she noted, APA is committed
to helping psychiatrists prepare for and pass the exam.
In addition to its world-renowned annual meeting, the Association is
offering a variety of tools—many of them easily accessible through APA's
Web site—to help prepare for recertification. These include "Grand
Rounds Online," Focus: A Journal of Lifelong Learning in
Psychiatry, and APA's practice guidelines.
The 11 practice guidelines published to date represent state-of-the-art
understanding about the optimal ways to treat patients with a variety of
conditions commonly seen by psychiatrists. Members can access the guidelines
online free and earn 3 to 5 CME credits by taking the multiplechoice test that
accompanies each. There are also references for additional information on each
of the guideline topics.
Members already familiar with Focus know it to be a clinical
review journal that appears quarterly, with an annual self-assessment
examination on the material, also appearing online, at the end of the year.
One of the best tools for staying current in psychiatry and preparing for
recertification, Focus offers up to 40 CME credits a year.
Both the Focus self-assessment exam and the practice guideline CME
tests have been approved by the ABPN as part of a "comprehensive
lifelong learning and self-assessment program," one of the components of
the concept of maintenance of certification being mandated by the American
Board of Medical Specialties.
"Grand Rounds Online" offers another interactive, Web-based
vehicle for staying current in psychiatry. Recent courses offered to members
via the "Grand Rounds Online" list serve include "From
Science to Practice: How to Critically Evaluate the Literature,""
Homophobia," and "Interactions of Physicians and
Pharmaceutical Companies." Each program provides free CME for the live
or archived discussion.
The deadline for this year's recertification exam for general psychiatry
has already passed. The deadline for applications for next year's
exam—to be held July 31 to August 4, 2006, and August 7 to 11,
2006—is October 1. "APA wants to help our members practice the
best medicine possible," said Hales. "And we want to help them
pass these exams."
APA's CME programs can be accessed online at<www.psych.org/cme/apacme>.
Information on the recertification exam and schedules is posted online at<www.abpn.com/recertification/content—psych-recert.html>.
Information on maintenance of certification is posted online at<www.abms.org/MOC.asp>.▪