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Odds of Board Certification Vary in New Doctors

Several factors contribute to this measure of physician quality

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Certification of recent U.S. medical school graduates by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) varies across specialties by educational and demographic factors, according to a study published in the Sept. 7 medical education-themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Donna B. Jeffe, Ph.D., and Dorothy A. Andriole, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, examined a national cohort of 42,440 medical school graduates from 1997 to 2000, grouped by specialty choice at time of graduation and followed up through 2009, to identify factors associated with ABMS member board certification.

The researchers found that 37,054 graduates (87.3 percent) in the study sample were board certified, and those in all specialty categories who passed U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 Clinical Knowledge on the first attempt were more likely to be board certified. Odds of being certified varied by specialty; for example, those in emergency medicine were less likely than those in radiology to be certified. Non-whites were less likely than whites to be board certified in every specialty category except family medicine.

"Demographic and educational factors were associated with board certification among U.S. medical school graduates in every specialty category examined; findings varied among specialty categories," the authors write.

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