Lazarus from the dead

I’m back.

April 15th I took my re-certification exam for my Internal Medicine boards. To maintain board certification you have to pass the exam after graduating from your residency program and then again every ten years. Since I passed in the year, 200o, I had to re-certify this year.

Initially, when I received my certificate in 2000, I laughed at the expiration date thinking, “2010. That is such a long ways off.” Well it came very quickly. When I celebrated New Years the first thing that came to mind as the we counted down to 2010 was that I had to take that damn exam this year. If I pass, I’ll have to re-certify in 2020. I’ll be in my 50’s! I shudder to repeat myself and think that is a long ways off.

So what does it mean to be certified? It means that the American College of Physicians and Board of Internal Medicine recognizes that you have successfully completed the requirements (according to them) to practice medicine. It doesn’t mean you can’t practice without being Board Certified. There are doctors who practice without certification. In New York you have to be licensed to practice medicine. For me, it’s just nice to say, “I’m a Board Certified physician.”

It makes me feel included.

Studying for the exam was nothing short of being tortured at Abu Ghraib prison by non other than Lynndie England herself. Imagine having to review not only Internal Medicine but also: Cardiology, Pulmonary, Endocrinology, Hematology, Oncology, Nephrology, Neurology, Critical Care, Gastroenterology and Rheumatology?

Yes, I know there are many that would say, “Duh, I want my doctor to know all that shiz, but like most standardized tests, the one given by ABIM doesn’t really test your knowledge but your test taking capability. (You know I’m just preparing you all in case I fail). Taking mock exam questions, I found myself asking, “Is this the answer they’re looking for or is the answer what I would do in real life?” I started overthinking questions and ultimately getting them wrong. It was very discouraging. I became depressed. I stayed in my office after work and studied until bedtime. I rarely saw Chad and Hoffman except for in the mornings before work and then afterwards before bed.

Since I’m not a great test taker I took a course given by the American College of Physicians, and I learned that I was not alone. There were thousands of us nervous doctors, jittery with anxiety, over having to pass this exam to maintain board certification.

I suppose it is good for doctors to have to re-certify, but why not ask us to complete modules every three years instead of one big exam every ten? Since I’ve been studying very hard I feel very smart at this moment. I read through all the medical books that comprise the MKSAP and I completed the course offered by ACP. So if you need to make an appointment with me I suggest you act quickly before all that knowledge I’ve accumulated these past three months evaporates into the recesses of my corpus callosum or is it substantia nigra? See. I’ve forgotten already.

In any case, I’m back.



  1. Posted April 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Good for you! You’ll probably pass, you are SO Smart!!

    I agree with something less stressful that is sooner than every 10 years since things change so rapidly…

    I’m sure you passed.

  2. Danh
    Posted April 21, 2010 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Don’t get me wrong but thats such a big relief hearing that you, as a doctor, still worry about the test taking skills. im having the same problem with my NLEX exam…overthinking questions, real life vs perfect word applicable..urg!! Anyways, wish u all the best!

%d bloggers like this: