Diagnostic radiology certifying exams will switch to oral format

2019 08 16 00 03 5037 Fail Pass 400

Beginning in 2028, the current computer-based exam used for certifying diagnostic radiologists will be replaced with remote oral exams, according to details recently released by the American Board of Radiology (ABR).

The change follows a two-year study of the current method for initial certification (IC) for diagnostic radiology (DR) that included stakeholder feedback and 327 survey responses from mostly practicing radiologists, residency program directors, and department chairs, according to an ABR committee.

"The new oral examination will focus on critical findings as well as common and important diagnoses routinely encountered in all diagnostic specialties, including radiology procedures," the group noted.

Moreover, all three of the other disciplines certified by the ABR (radiation oncology, medical physics, and interventional radiology) employ remote oral examinations effectively in their testing methods, the group added.

In 2013, the ABR changed the format of initial certification for diagnostic radiology from a written examination followed by an oral exam to the current method: a computer-based qualifying (core) exam followed by a computer-based certifying exam.

Based on an ongoing assessment, in September 2021, ABR leaders launched a dedicated initiative to study the impact of the current examination format from the perspective of multiple stakeholder groups. A committee led by David Larson, MD, a professor of radiology at Stanford University, gathered input regarding the current approach from a wide breadth of stakeholders, including all major radiology organizations.

"Perhaps the most salient and pervasive criticism of the current DR IC process is the widespread perception that there is inadequate testing of the breadth of fundamental skills required of a competent radiologist," the committee noted.

Based on that conclusion, and "in light of advancements in remote testing methods," on April 13, 2023, the ABR announced its plan to replace the current computer-based certifying examination with a new oral board examination, to be administered remotely, beginning in 2028.

Candidates will first be eligible for the examination in the calendar year after residency graduation. Additional details will be finalized and announced in coming years, with the ABR continuing to engage with stakeholders throughout the implementation process.

Source: Larson DB, Flemming DJ, Barr RM, Canon CL, Morgan DE. "Redesign of the American Board of Radiology Diagnostic Radiology Certifying Examination." American Journal of Roentgenology 2023 Jun 7 (published online).

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