Initial Certification Research

Published: Why do Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians Lose Board Certification?

Summary by Carolyn L. Kinney, MD

Nearly 98% of physicians completing residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation seek board certification through the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ABPMR), with about 93% reaching this achievement. Since 1993, certification has been time-limited, requiring physicians to engage in ongoing certifications processes to maintain the credential.

The ongoing requirements include maintaining an active and unrestricted license in every state or jurisdiction of medical practice, completing an average of 30 hours of continuing medical education annually, passing a knowledge assessment (now the longitudinal assessment on a 5-year cycle), and completing a practice improvement project every 5 years.

Physicians can lose board certification through failure to satisfactorily complete the program requirements, resulting in certification lapse or expiration, or through a professional practice violation at the level of the state medical boards, resulting in certification revocation.

This retrospective study analyzed the causes of ABPMR board certification loss between 1993 and 2019.

ABPMR identified ,5541 physicians initially certified between 1993 and 2009. Of these, 9% percent (496/5,541) had certification expiration and 2.4% (135/5,541) had certification revocation. The most common cause for loss of certification was failure to complete components of the continuing certification program, particularly the practice improvement project and the self-assessment requirement in continuing medical education. Most cases were the result of missing deadlines. Very few certification expirations were due to failure to eventually pass the knowledge assessment component of the continuing certification program.

The ABPMR adopted a new continuing certification program in 2020 which incorporates self-assessment into an ongoing knowledge assessment for learning (Longitudinal Assessment – PM&R or LA-PM&R). In addition, many new options for practice improvement projects have been made available in recent years, along with guidance on how to design and complete a project. These program modifications should help physicians meet continuing certification requirements through more regular engagement in certification processes coupled with reduced administrative burden.

Read the abstract or download the full article, which has been published online ahead of print: Why Do Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians Lose American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Board Certification?

Kinney, Carolyn L. MD; Johns, Jeffery S. MD; Sabharwal, Sunil MD; Raddatz, Mikaela M. PhD; Driscoll, Sherilyn W. MD Why Do Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physicians Lose American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Board Certification? American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 101(7):p S15-S20, July 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000002020

Originally Published: June 13, 2023