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WHAT ABCRS DOES FOR DIPLOMATES

Diplomates of the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, you are recognized nationally and internationally as a specialist in management of diseases of the colon and rectum. Our diplomates have attained the highest certification in this specialty, and through participation in Maintenance of Certification, continue to demonstrate their expert qualifications in the field of Colon and Rectal Surgery. The Board activities listed below have at the core the commitment to protect and promulgate the acknowledged expertise of ABCRS diplomates in caring for patients with diseases of the colon and rectum.

The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery protects the standing of ABCRS diplomates as the recognized certified surgical specialists in diseases of the colon and rectum. This goes far beyond the initial certification process. The Board remains an active proponent of our diplomates’ standing and content expertise when confronted with groups that attempt to portray lesser qualified individuals as possessing expertise equivalent to that of Board Certified Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Examples include: non-ACGME-approved “colorectal” fellowships; “rectal cancer management” certification separate from ABCRS certification; and “inflammatory bowel disease” specialty status sought by non-ABCRS-certified surgeons.

The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery aids diplomates in management of changing professional status. This includes situations such as “Clinically inactive”, for diplomates who assume fulltime administrative or research positions, but wish to remain certified by ABCRS; or the Re-entry Pathway, by which a diplomate can return to active practice after a hiatus due to illness or other personal reasons.

The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery invests much energy toward increasing the value of Maintenance of Certification. ABCRS Board members have taken key roles in national efforts to reshape MOC requirements and timelines. Your Board’s goal is an MOC process that respects our diplomates’ clinical and personal time pressures, can swiftly include updated information or new technologies, and better reflects diplomates’ current practice profiles for improved relevance.

The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery is one of 24 member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Below are listed some of the many benefits of ABMS Board certification “brand”:

  • State Advertising Limitations (21 states)
    1. 21 states restrict physicians’ ability to advertise themselves as “board certified” to those physicians who are certified by an ABMS Member Board, AOA or other certifying boards deemed to be their equivalent.
  • Medical Board Licensure Waivers (13 jurisdictions)
    1. These state medical boards waive certain physician licensure requirements for those physicians who are certified by an ABMS Member Board.
  • Health Care Organization Privileging Requirements
    1. Many health care organizations (including hospitals) require a physician to be certified by an ABMS Member Board before granting privileges to that physician to practice in the certified specialty.
  • Medicare & Medicaid
    1. Physicians certified by an ABMS Member Board receive benefits which include, but are not limited to:
      1. Recognition of specialty
      2. MIPS credit for MOC participation
  • Judicial Recognition & Expert Witness Statutes
    1. Both Federal and state courts have consistently recognized the importance of ABMS Board Certification in credentialing.
    2. Certain states only allow physicians certified by an ABMS Member Board to testify as an expert witness in medical malpractice cases where the defendant is certified by an ABMS Member Board.
  • Health Insurance Recognition
    1. ABMS Board Certification is used by insurers as a HEDIS quality measure
    2. Health insurers often give preference to physicians certified by a ABMS Member Board in determining network participation and health plan contracting
  • Malpractice Insurance Benefits
    1. Physicians certified by an ABMS Member Board are given preferential underwriting.
    2. Medical malpractice insurers provide discounted premiums for coverage of an ABMS Member Board certified physician for his or her practice in the certified specialty.
  • International Recognition
    1. Global recognition of competence
    2. Reciprocity

Purposes and Functions of the Board

The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery was established to promote the health and welfare of the American people through the development and maintenance of high standards for certification in the specialty of colon and rectal surgery.

To accomplish this, the Board:

Determines that candidates possess proper qualifications before taking the examination for certification or maintenance of certification.
Conducts examinations to determine the ability and fitness to practice the specialty of colon and rectal surgery.
Awards certificates to those candidates who fulfill its requirements.

ABCRS Fee Restructuring

ABCRS has been able to maintain fees for Initial Certification at the same level for eight years, and Maintenance of Certification fees have remained unchanged since 2011, despite increased cost of living and new expenditures for security and data management deemed necessary by the Board for protecting the standing and sensitive information of our diplomates. The day to day functions of the ABCRS have been performed by our four staff members in the Taylor, Michigan offices. The Board recently, and reluctantly, acknowledged the need for adjustments to Board fees. There are several reasons for this, including provision of healthcare coverage for Board staff, and increased costs related to certification activities, as our specialty grows and the Board pays the expenses for a larger group of examiners who have generously given their time for this essential Board activity.

Another reason for adjustment to fees is the Board’s commitment to CertLink, an innovative web-based method for diplomates to engage in Part 3 of MOC without the inconvenience and stress caused by the every ten year written exam. Diplomates will no longer have to submit an application for the ten year exam, find a convenient Pearson Vue testing site, and take a day off from professional or personal activities to travel to the testing site and take the exam. The application and exam administration fees have been consolidated and averaged over ten years. The cost to an individual diplomate of the MOC program averaged over a ten year cycle (the standard cycle of the ABCRS MOC program) was previously $410. The adjusted MOC fee with the introduction of the CertLink platform will be $500 annually.

The New Fee Structure Includes Adjusted Fees For:

Application to the certification exam process, with consideration of the increased burden the Board staff manages for a steadily increasing number of applicants.

Admittance to the written (qualifying) examination, with acknowledgement of the office staff effort and database upkeep inherent in maintaining a bank of secure, high quality multiple choice questions of high reliability designed to decrease inter-examinee variability.

Admittance to the oral (certifying) examination, recognizing the staff effort and Board resources required to securely and fairly assess on an annual basis the specialty expertise of an increasing number of young colorectal surgeons.

Maintenance of Certification, replacing the every ten year written exam with a program designed to decrease diplomate burden and inconvenience. The new CertLink platform will allow MOC questions to be answered at a work or home computer, or on a laptop, Ipad, or other handheld device, at the convenience of the individual diplomate. No intrusive security add-ons will be needed. Diplomates will receive immediate feedback on each item via a critique accompanied by references; the critiques can be saved for later review. Progress in the program overall and in key areas will be clearly displayed, allowing diplomates to track their individual performance, as well as strengths and areas they may wish to review in more depth.

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