Jump to Main Content

Policy Statements

ASH Statement of Principles on Continuous Certification

Beginning in 2001, the American Society of Hematology (ASH) questioned the underlying premise of maintenance of certification. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Commission on Continuing Board Certification is taking a much-needed look at the landscape of continuing medical education, continuing certification, and quality improvement in health care, and is reevaluating the policies and procedures ABMS and its member boards have established over time to ensure the appropriateness of the next generation of continuing certification. ASH appreciates this effort on the part of the commissioners and ABMS.

The following represent ASH’s principles on continuous certification:

Continuous certification must be clinically relevant, evidence-based and must lead to improvements in patient outcomes; ASH does not support continuous certification requirements that have not been proven to improve patient outcomes.

Continuous certification must be based on a robust body of knowledge conducted by impartial researchers not solely sanctioned and/or funded by the certifying boards; ASH believes research conducted by individuals solely funded by the certifying boards is insufficient to support claims that continuous certification improves patient outcomes.

Continuous certification must recognize that numerous entities beyond certifying boards contribute to quality improvement in health care; ASH does not support the certifying boards creating continuous certification programs that do not recognize the complexities physicians face in working to improve health care.

Continuous certification must recognize diverse practice settings and career pathways; ASH does not support requiring a diplomate to review the entire breadth of a specialty and relearn aspects that are not included in their current scope of practice to continue certification.

Continuous certification must embrace formative assessment as being the most relevant and beneficial to physicians and patients; ASH does not support required summative assessments for recertification purposes.

Continuous certification must involve many stakeholders and the boards must welcome input from stakeholders both formally and informally; ASH strongly encourages the certifying boards to implement and maintain governance structures that reflect the stakeholder communities.

Continuous certification must recognize the value of continuing medical education and respect the roles of educational organizations such as academic medical centers and medical specialty societies; the role of certifying boards must be limited to measurement of competence.