Feb 6, 2020
Dermatologists had concerns about the maintenance of
certification (MOC) program and the American Board of Dermatology
(ABD) listened. Dr. Vincent DeLeo speaks with Dr. Erik Stratman
about how CertLink, the ABD’s new web-based assessment
makes continuing certification activities more accessible and more
meaningful to clinical practice. Dr. Stratman notes, “We [ABD]
recognized that the program [MOC] had faults. In 2015, after our
first 10 years of experiences, we decided to take a hard look at
the program. . . . The American Board of Dermatology decided to
take on some of the education on its own shoulders and create
activities that could be made more affordable, more meaningful,
less time, and that’s where ideas such as CertLink . . . came to
We bring you
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about $112,450 per patient annually.
New Barbie lineup includes a doll with vitiligo
doll debuts much to the delight of clinicians who treat children
and adolescents with the condition.
Things you will learn in this episode:
is a web-based longitudinal assessment platform designed as an
alternative to the high-stakes sit-down examination.
- Rather than generating questions on random medical knowledge,
CertLink allows dermatologists to tailor the test to highlight
specific subspecialties that are more relevant to their individual
areas of clinical practice. “It allows the diplomate to tailor the
assessment to be more relevant to what they do in practice every
day,” advises Dr. Stratman. “And that’s one of the ways that we’ve
tried to tackle the question of relevance so that [diplomates are]
maximizing the kinds of questions that reflect their
- Once ABD diplomates start the CertLink program, they are issued
a set of 13 questions every quarter for the rest of their active
board-certified lives. The questions can be accessed all at once or
one at a time, depending on how the dermatologist wants to take the
- Questions come in 3 varieties: core questions (general
dermatology); concentration, vignette-based questions
(subspecialties); and article-based questions (eg, new guidelines,
therapies, side effects).
- Because the new assessment program is designed to be taken
continuously throughout one’s career, all diplomates are permitted
to take 1 quarter off each year as a break from the testing.
- Larger-scale participation in the CertLink program over time
will be necessary to develop accurate measures of performance for
the new test. “We want to get as many diplomates as possible on
board with this testing platform so that they can gain experience,
and we recognize that within these early years there’s going to be
a nonuniform uptake of joining on to CertLink, so there’s basically
a 2-year onboarding window that we anticipate,” Dr. Stratman
- CertLink includes a learn-to-competence element that allows
diplomates to learn from wrong answers without penalty. “When you
first see a question in a particular quarter and you answer that
question and you happen to get it wrong . . . you will get an
explanation of why was that right answer right and why were each of
the wrong answers wrong, so there’s a little opportunity for
learning,” Dr. Stratman explains. The diplomate then will receive a
very similar question in the following quarter, and only then will
the response count toward the assessment grade.
- The CertLink platform launched on January 6, 2020, to a cohort
of more than 4500 board-certified dermatologists. In the first
week, more than 800 dermatologists answered test questions with a
correct response rate of more than 97%.
- The next sign-on period for CertLink is in May 2020. “When you
see an inbox email from the [ABD], it’s worth opening and reading.
We don’t try and sell you products, we aren’t spamming you. If
there’s something from the [ABD], it’s worth the read,” Dr.
Hosts: Elizabeth Mechcatie; Terry Rudd; Vincent
A. DeLeo, MD (Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern
California, Los Angeles)
Guests: Erik J. Stratman, MD (Marshfield Clinic
Health System, Wisconsin)
Show notes by: Alicia Sonners, Melissa Sears,
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