Pediatric Dentistry Today - The Vision for the Future of Continuing Board Certification

Posted: 5/18/2018

The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry significantly simplified our specialty board certification by introducing the Oral Clinical Examination in 2005, changing the voluntary certification process from a four-part to a user-friendly two-part examination. In 2012, ABPD launched the Renewal of Certification Process (ROC-P). By most measures, our certification and recertification processes have been successful and well received. The psychometric data collected since 2005 has convincingly demonstrated that the Qualifying Examination and the Oral Clinical Examination are reliable in validating the minimal competence required of a board certified pediatric dentist.

Self-regulation is crucial to modern-day professionalism, and indeed essential to ABPD for it to remain relevant and thrive. To that end, a primary purpose of the ROC-P is to assure our stakeholders that as board certified pediatric dentists we continue to validate our clinical and didactic knowledge as well as our skills and techniques. ROC-P also involves licensure attestation, registration of CE credits, participation in the quality improvement modules, and every 10 years, an open book, multiple-choice examination. Initially, some diplomates expressed considerable angst about having to renew their board certification.  Now, most diplomates seem to enjoy the quality improvement modules and derive valuable learning from the process. However, the questions remain if the ROC-P offers an adequate and appropriate mix of educational content; more fundamentally, how valid is this process for our certification renewal?

The Vision Initiative, instituted by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which comprises of 24 medical specialty boards, is attempting to answer such questions. Last year ABMS appointed the Planning Committee to form the Commission whose charge is to make recommendations about the future of continuing board certification. The Commission was formed earlier this year with 27 selected board members representing stakeholders from within and outside of the medical profession: individual physicians, specialty boards, licensing organizations, credentialing authorities, state medical societies and the public at large. 

The Vision Initiative consists of three phases. Phase I, the establishment of the Commission and the planning of its charge, is completed. Phase II, which is happening through 2018, includes gathering information from all stakeholders, examining physicians’ learning, considering how to incorporate new knowledge and clinical information in programs to help physicians stay up-to-date in their specialties, as well as assessing ways to support physicians’ autonomy and mastery. Lastly, in Phase III the Commission will publish a report with recommendations to the ABMS for their consideration regarding the principles, frameworks and program models for continuing board certification.

The ABPD believes the voluntary participation in continuous learning through board certification and recertification improves the quality of pediatric oral health care and patient outcomes. Our Board is constantly looking for ways to evaluate and strengthen the processes, to improve the lifelong learning experience for our diplomates, and to reassure the public that our self-regulation is appropriate and valid. We are, therefore, watching the work of the Commission and the progress of the Vision Initiative with great anticipation and interest that these efforts will help us hone the certification and recertification processes of ABPD.

You can find the details of the Vision Initiative by visiting their website at

Pediatric Dentistry Today, May 2018

Dorothy Pang, DDS, MS

San Francisco

Director & QE Board Liaison, ABPD

Board Certified 2006

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