By Randall Roenigk, MD*
The ABD has posted its Annual Report, which highlights the board’s work and progress over the past year. In it, we update you on the number of physicians who have become certified in general dermatology and subspecialties, and pass rates for exams.
As I reflect on the ABD’s work in 2022, two things stand out: engagement and transparency.
As your Executive Staff promised when we began our work 18 months ago, we have focused on increasing opportunities to listen to you – the ABD’s diplomates – about ways to make certification more relevant and useful.
Likewise, we have tried to give you more information about your ABD leadership and operations – making the board more transparent.
Ways we have engaged
Early in 2022, the ABD sent surveys to diplomates, asking for your insights as we began developing a five-year strategic plan. We invited you to participate in focus groups to discuss your thoughts in more detail – five focus groups were held, led by an outside consulting firm who could listen and report your ideas and concerns without bias or preconceptions.
We have been diligently working on our strategic plan, combining your thoughts, our own observations, mandates from the American Board of Medical Specialties, and insights from leaders of other medical specialty boards. We will give you details on the completed plan in January 2023.
Our Professionalism Policy is an example of how we want to handle “hot topics” – more sensitive, controversial issues. I don’t think that “professionalism” would be so controversial under normal circumstances, but in the current climate, roiling with disagreements about COVID management, racial fairness, and health equalities, professionalism became a contentious topic. We spent months writing and rewriting the policy your Board of Directors eventually adopted. We are grateful to those of you who shared your thoughts and concerns via surveys and emails. You contributed in meaningful ways to the creation of a simple, clear policy that focuses on what is best for patients. To me, that is the true meaning of professionalism.
We also have engaged our training community, reaching out first to program directors and administrators to find out how we can support them more effectively. We sent a survey, then followed up with online forums. The most visible result was a reorganization of materials on our website program portal to make multiple due dates and requirements easier to find. Also, we engaged virtually with program directors via town hall meetings to discuss concerns related to the new pathway to certification.
We also surveyed newly certified diplomates about their experiences while they were residents and/or fellows. We hoped that the first cohort to complete the ABD’s new certification pathway could give us insights into how we can improve the process. Their observations were so valuable that we are repeating the survey with diplomates certified in 2022.
And, based on information from Program Directors and Administrators, we also created dashboards on the trainees’ ABD profiles to help them more efficiently keep track of key dates, requirements, and their progress toward certification.
Ways we have increased transparency
We want you to know who comprises your leadership team. Last year, we updated our website with profiles of the Executive Staff. This year, we expanded the profiles to include all members of our Board of Directors. Dermatology is a relatively small community, and our leadership represents many areas of the country and all dermatology subspecialties. By making it easier for you to know who is on the board, we hope you will see familiar names and know who to contact if you have a question or an idea. We also added information about terms and responsibilities of our Directors.
We continue to update the information we provide to you through Candid’s Guidestar, a leader in providing financial information on non-profit organizations. We maintain a Platinum rating – Guidestar’s highest level of transparency. We have added a link to our Guidestar profile to the footer of every page of the website, so it is easily available.
But, as more than one diplomate reminded us, our website footer is not the first place people go when they are looking for information. With that in mind, we are working on a summary of our financial information that will be posted – and updated annually – on our website, with a link to more details in Guidestar.
We have added a tool on our website that allows patients and the public to look up a dermatologist’s certification status. This visibility helps promote your expertise and experience. Now, you also can go into your profile and add details about your practice including your office address and practice focuses. When we have information from enough diplomates, we’ll add a search feature to allow patients to look for a dermatologist in their area. Watch for more information about this feature in the new year.
Ways we are grateful
We are all grateful for the many diplomates who have helped us make your board stronger as we all strive to stay up-to-date and provide the best care for our patients.
We could not provide certification without the dozens of diplomates and our board of directors who volunteer their time to produce and evaluate exams. Your service is very important and greatly appreciated.
Wishing each of you a happy and prosperous New Year.
*About the Author
Dr. Roenigk is Executive Director of the American Board of Dermatology. In addition, he is a consultant (full-time faculty) and former chair of the Department of Dermatology and Division of Dermatologic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. A professor of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, he also holds the Robert H. Kieckhefer Professorship in Dermatology at the Mayo Foundation.
Dr. Roenigk reflects on the ABD's accomplishments