Cardiovascular Societies Pursue New, Independent Medical Board

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September 21, 2023—The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions (SCAI) announced that the society and the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), and Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) are pursuing the creation of a new board for cardiovascular medicine certification that would be independent of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), where the cardiology certification process currently exists.

The four societies are working together to submit a new board application, with the potential for additional consortium members to join.

The consortium will submit an application to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), requesting an independent medical board for cardiovascular medicine to pursue a new competency-based approach to continuous certification—one that harnesses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to sustain professional excellence and care for cardiovascular patients effectively.

According to the SCAI press release, other cardiovascular organizations, including the American Heart Association (AHA), have applauded the vision and have collaborated in the development of the application. Formal support from AHA is pending, dependent on official review and consideration by AHA’s Board of Directors at its next scheduled meeting.

The SCAI press release noted that ABMS remains the only authority widely recognized by the public, regulators, and payers for initial and ongoing physician certification in the United States.

The new board will replace the “Maintenance of Certification” approach with a pathway to continuous certification and competency. SCAI stated that the new board will offer diplomates convenience, support, choice, and credit for the learning that physicians currently do to keep their knowledge and skills at the highest level.

The SCAI press release noted that the field of cardiology has evolved into a complex specialty distinct from internal medicine, and sustaining relevant continuous certification and competency assessments is fundamental to providing high-value health care.

The new board requirements will de-emphasize timed, high-stakes performance exams in the continuous certification process and instead will focus on learning assessments to identify gaps in current knowledge or skills, with recommendations offered on continuing medical education learning resources and activities to help close the gaps. Importantly, the new board will be developed and overseen by physicians dedicated to the field of cardiovascular medicine. Transparency into board operations will be a key priority, advised SCAI.

The application approval process is expected to take several months. If approval is granted by ABMS, then it will take several additional months before initial certification and continuous certification and competency programs would begin.

The leadership of the four societies commented in the press release as follows:

  • ACC President B. Hadley Wilson, MD: “It’s time to have a dedicated cardiovascular medicine board of our own; cardiology is a distinct medical specialty and physicians want—and deserve—a clinical competency and continuous certification program that is meaningful to their practice and patients. We know that the cardiovascular community is ready for an independent, self-governed entity, and we are proud to develop this new board with cardiologists and cardiology organizations at the helm.”
  • HFSA President John Teerlink, MD: “The priority of this proposed new board is to ensure the requirements truly benefit the cardiology community and the patients we serve. The new board’s focus on competence in the pursuit of continuous certification is a needed paradigm shift for the field, and we look forward to future collaborations with the consortium as we submit the application.”
  • SCAI President George Dangas, MD: “SCAI is excited to collaborate with the other cardiovascular societies to bring forth the appropriate standards and transparency necessary for cardiovascular medicine certification requirements. As the premier society representing interventional cardiology, we are committed to ensuring that we create a simplified process that speaks to the evolving trends in continuing education and other rising demands of physicians in our current health care landscape.”
  • HRS President Jodie L. Hurwitz, MD: “The field of cardiology, and the subspecialty of cardiac electrophysiology, have evolved dramatically over the last several decades. The time is now to create a board of cardiovascular medicine that can offer our United States physician members an innovative approach to maintaining specialized certification that measures the true clinical competence of our diplomates and physicians with relevant educational support.” 

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