With the goal of expanding the number of meetings and conferences we report on, Mr. H is sending me to the AMIA Annual Symposium this year. I’ll be reporting on the activities each day. I’m looking forward to it as I haven’t attended previously. I’m also eager to log some hours towards Maintenance of Certification (MOC) for my Clinical Informatics board certification.
I’m not the only one looking forward to getting the continuing education credits. The AMIA listserv for the Clinical Informatics Community of Practice (CICOP) has been hopping with quite a few complaints about the whole MOC process for those of us in this new specialty. With the first cohort passing their exams in the fall of 2013, we’re decently into the first part of our 10-year recertification cycle. Those of us certified through the American Board of Preventive Medicine (the American Board of Pathology also certifies) are required to obtain a certain number of ABPM Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment (LLSA) hours every three years in addition to regular continuing education hours.
Most of the current LLSA-approved continuing education offerings are within ABPM’s longer-standing subspecialties such as Aerospace Medicine, Occupational Medicine, General Preventive Medicine, and Undersea/Hyperbaric Medicine. The number of courses for clinical informatics are few and far between and typically involve on-site courses. AMIA has completed the process to offer LLSA hours for the fall meeting, and for those of us unable to get hours over the previous two years, it’s a huge help.
When I initially decided to try to become part of the first class of board certified clinical informaticists, I really didn’t think about what it would be like to maintain certification with two different board organizations. The American Board of Family Medicine already requires me to do 150 hours of CME each year, of which a certain percentage has to meet specified criteria. Certification by the AMA or the American Academy of Family Physicians are two of the criteria that count. Finding AMA- or AAFP-approved CME is easy. It’s everywhere, and can be earned not only through face-to-face symposia but also by reading journal articles and taking CME quizzes or doing online coursework.
We’re one of the first specialties that required Maintenance of Certification. Although the policies are a little tedious, they’re well documented and pretty straightforward. With Clinical Informatics being relatively new (coupled with the fact that many of us in the first two certification cohorts are, shall we say, fairly Type-A personalities) there’s a lot of tension around MOC. In addition to the LLSA credit, we’re also supposed to complete a “patient safety module” which is somewhat ill-defined (although ABPM did offer a link to a discounted course from the National Patient Safety Foundation that they’ll accept). A friend of mine got his university course approved as well, but the rest of us may not have that option.
I’m grateful that the Board has agreed to recognize some of the MOC (called Part IV) activities that physicians are already performing for their primary board certification. The current Clinical Informatics subspecialty certification requires physicians to maintain full certification in another American Board of Medical Specialties sanctioned discipline so it seems only fair, especially considering that the Board has yet to come out with a recognized clinical informatics module. I have to admit that the process to have my Family Medicine credits recognized was fairly straightforward, although it did require printing and completing a paper form and emailing it to the Board.
One of the respondents on the AMIA email thread mentioned that as a specialty deeply involved in computer-based projects, we should be at the forefront for virtual and online courses. Unfortunately one of the major challenges is completing the paperwork from the board to have your course recognized, which I hear is not exactly straightforward. I don’t know if there are fees involved with submitting a course offering, but that could be a de-motivator for some providers of continuing education credit.
There aren’t any well-known online providers for the kind of credit we need. Although some of our colleagues in academic settings are going to try to get their local courses certified, that doesn’t help those of us who are in parts of the country where we’re thinly populated. I’m one of two certified informaticists in my metropolitan area of over three million people, and I’m sure there are others even more sparsely arranged than we are.
One of the AMIA representatives mentioned being in contact with the Board and that we’re going to get an extension on some of the initial deadlines, but as a diplomate of the Board, I haven’t received that communication directly from them nor has it been posted on their website or in any other print media that I’m aware of. It’s understandably frustrating then for those of us who don’t want to fall behind but are somewhat stuck about what we need to do to be successful.
We’ll gather at AMIA, though, and see what kind of credits we can rack up and whether they’ll be enough to get us through the first checkpoint at the end of Year Three of our certifications. Hopefully some virtual offerings will be approved soon, or at least some recordings for those of us who aren’t willing or able to spend several thousand dollars (not to mention the time out of practice) to attend a conference in person.
It’s exhilarating to be on the cutting edge of things, but like being in the health information technology industry, it can also be frustrating and at times downright exhausting. I’m hoping that attending AMIA and networking with others in the field will help recharge some of my depleted energy and give me ideas for future projects. If nothing else it’s an excuse to visit San Francisco, which I’ve never done in the fall.
Will I see you at AMIA? Email me.
Email Dr. Jayne.