Starting January 1, 2006, board recertification, now known as maintenance of certification, will take on a new character as evaluation of practice performance becomes a requirement. Changes in American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) recertification requirements and new ASCO learning programs aim to make the recertification process easier, more flexible, and more efficient.

A major change in process is applicable to those with more than one time-limited certificate (e.g., both medical oncology and hematology) that is scheduled for renewal in 2006 or later. Current diplomats will not have to complete five self-evaluation modules for each subspecialty certificate. Most self-evaluation modules will be awarded 20 points each, so 100 points are equivalent to completing only five modules in all. But 20 of the 100 points must be in evaluation of practice performance—and oncologists must still pass examinations in each subspecialty for which they seek recertification (see Maintaining Your Certificates in 2006 and Beyond). This will be a relief for most recertifying oncologists, 81% of whom have multiple certificates—48% have two, 33% have three, and a few (< 1%) have more than three.

Completing a performance assessment usually takes no longer than completing a knowledge module, said Sennett. Because there is no threshold set for performance, you can’t fail—you and your patients can only win.