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Internists Recertify for Knowledge and Credibility

Most participate in new MOC, but large percentage leave practice after first certification

TUESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Most general internists participate in a new recertification program, but one-fifth report leaving the specialty since their initial certification, researchers report in the Jan. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Rebecca S. Lipner, Ph.D., from the American Board of Internal Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a mail survey of all internists and subspecialists who participated in the newly initiated Maintenance of Certification (MOC) from 1990 to 1992. The researchers asked the internists about the forces that drove them to maintain certification.

Of the 51% who responded to the survey, more than half said they participated in the MOC program to update their knowledge and maintain professional credibility. Among the most common reasons for not participating were that it took too much time, was too expensive, or was not required for employment.

Although 91% of all respondents are still working in internal medicine or its subspecialties, a surprising 21% of general internists reported leaving the specialty since their initial certification.

"Certifying boards must continue to set standards and develop evaluation programs," the authors write. Some entity must track the rates of physicians leaving medicine or moving between subspecialties to prepare for a projected decline in primary care physicians, states an accompanying editorial.

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