Obtaining a medical degree is difficult enough, but the strain put on doctors to keep up with their certifications is even tougher. There is a saying that by the time a person graduates from medical school; at least half of what they learned has become obsolete due to the rapid changes and advancements in the health care field. Keep in mind that the term certification is a broad term. Certification can refer to medical exams for the state where a doctor practices, individual exams for the health facility they are employed through, and even individual board certification or board eligibility. Regardless of what term is used to define the specific qualification, it is getting tougher and tougher for doctors to keep up.
When I got out of medical school I knew that I would need to learn on a continuous basis, said Fred Thompson, a board certified pediatrician from Illinois. After I began working, there was just no time. I worked 60 hours per week during my first year of practice at the hospital and was on call the rest of the time. Now in my private practice I am buried with paperwork in addition to the hundred plus patients I see in a week. Thompson is not alone. With the health care field needing more and more professionals as Baby Boomers get older, they are working more and have less time to study and test.
Some physicians are comfortable without becoming board certified. Duncan, a physician in Madison, Wisconsin who asked that his last name not be used, stated that he has failed board certification on numerous occasions because of lack of time.I practiced in Indiana for five years, said Duncan.I attempted to become board certified in plastic surgery, but failed twice. It was not because I am not good at what I do, but because I did not have the time to fully study.
There are companies trying making it easier for doctors and health care professionals to access the training that they need to keep up with certifications. National Health Care Provider Solutions (NHCPS) is a company that provides online training and certification for health care professionals. The provide certification and recertification for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ALS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). Their founder, Dr. Karl Disque, is also the author of the provider handbooks for ACLS, PALS, and BLS.
â€œEveryone in the healthcare industry knows how difficult it can be to find the time for certification, said Disque in a telephone interview.The purpose of NHCPS is to allow health care professionals to train on their own time. This allows them to set aside time outside of clinical hours to make sure that they fully understand what they are being taught and keep up with their certifications. While Disque and his company are making it easier for life support examinations, there are other tests that health care professionals still cannot take online and for good reason.
Board certification tests are still lengthy and exhaustive examinations that require physicians to be present. There are computer model examinations; however, they are again required to be taken in person. The difficulty of these examinations requires physicians to spend a tremendous amount of time studying; however, due to the work demand placed on them, the chances of them preparing adequately for the exams is low. This is part of the reason why the percentage of physicians who become board certified is so low. Until we reach the age where doctors and health care professionals are either paid for or allot the time to study for such examinations, the number of doctors who are available as specialists will continue to be low.