While the program is just a few years old, changes to the Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine (FPHM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) make it more attractive to hospitalists, bringing it in line with other MOC programs. And now is the time to act for 2014.
Not only do the changes to the FPHM MOC streamline the process, it remains the only ABIM certification designed exclusively for the growing ranks of hospitalists, according to hospitalists who have already earned the new certification. The hospitalist-centric program makes their board certification more applicable to their everyday practice and emphasizes their expertise in the specialty.
The alignment with the hospital medicine specialty has both practical and ideological benefits for hospitalists. On the practical side, the hospital medicine focused medical knowledge modules and preparation for the Hospital Medicine MOC exam are more focused, as the content better matches the day-to-day life of a hospitalist.
“From a content perspective, both for studying and the updates, it allows the hospitalist to focus on content that’s most relevant to their practice,” says hospitalist Jennifer Myers, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine and associate designated institutional official for graduate medical education at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Dr. Myers earned the FPHM certification in 2011. Compared to the internal medicine MOC, she says “the standard questions focused on ambulatory medicine do not always apply,” and the likelihood that hospitalists kept up on those topics was slim. Rather, “hospitalists will be better prepared to take the Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine. And as they’re updating and studying, they can focus on relevant topics for their practice,” she says.
For hospitalist and former SHM president Jeffrey Wiese, MD, MHM, the FPHM MOC program helps define his work in ways other than just the physical space of the hospital.
“If I am to have public accountability as a hospitalist, it has to be more than just geography. Intrinsic to a true hospitalist is systems architecture…improving the quality and patient safety delivered by the hospital system,” says Dr. Wiese, professor of medicine and senior associate dean of graduate medical education at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Dr. Wiese is intimately familiar with the process: He served on the ABIM’s Hospital Medicine MOC Exam Writing ABIM test writing committee for the FPHM pathway MOC program. He now serves on the new ABIM Council.
“This is a way to distinguish the ideals of the specialty,” he says. “What hospitalists do is more than just deliver inpatient care. … It’s about advancing the quality and safety of the system, and the FPHM MOC track ensures fidelity to that standard.”
FPHM’s ability to differentiate hospitalists resonates with Daniel Brotman, MD, director of the hospitalist program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and chair of SHM’s Annual Meeting Committee and Education Committee. And that differentiation extends from the individual hospitalist to the movement as a whole.
“If you’re a hospitalist and you’re invested in the field, this is an important statement to make on behalf of your specialty,” he says. “It can give you some added respect within your institution when people ask you about specialized training in hospital medicine.”
Even if hospitalists didn’t have specialized training, the FPHM MOC demonstrates that they “did have to pass a specialized certification process that gives different credentials,” Dr. Brotman says. “This is the best way to do that.”
He also sees it as an individual benefit for hospitalists—both for their career advancement and their peace of mind—knowing that they are more up to date with their clinical practice.
“You practice hospital medicine. If you want an exam that hits the ball to your forehand, this is it,” he says. “If you’re nervous about the board exam, I’d be more nervous about taking a generalized exam.”
Brendon Shank is SHM’s associate vice president of communications.