As a sleep specialist who is certified through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), I share the concerns that many of you have about the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that is implemented by the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Recently the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced that its diplomates who are certified in a subspecialty will no longer need to maintain underlying certification. This positive change was welcome news for the 3,600 internists who are certified in sleep medicine, and it was a hopeful sign for many of the rest of us.
In a recent letter of thanks to the ABIM, I expressed my hope that their action will set a precedent for other sleep medicine boards to follow. To make sure that this issue is on the agenda, I then sent letters to the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) and the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) requesting that they take similar action. Of the six ABMS member boards that offer sleep medicine certification, only the ABPN and the ABFM continue to require sleep specialists to maintain underlying certification.
I believe that this requirement is an unnecessary burden for sleep medicine physicians. It also doesn’t reflect the specialization of many sleep medicine practices today. Ultimately, physicians should be afforded the flexibility to maintain those certifications that are most relevant to their individual practice.
I look forward to keeping you updated on this and other relevant issues during my term as your president. As the professional society for the sleep field, the AASM will continue to advocate for all of our members.
Nathaniel F. Watson, MD, MSc