An Analysis of the Knowledge Base of Practicing Internists As Measured by the 1980 Recertification Examination - American Board of Medical Specialties

In this study, researchers reviewed the performance of candidates for the American Board of Internal Medicine’s 1980 Recertification Examination compared to those taking the ABIM’s 1979 Certifying Examination. They used a common-item linear equating procedure to compare the medical knowledge of both groups. Overall, they found their knowledge base was roughly on the same level between the two groups. They did note that performance on the test did decline with an increase in age but difference in performance measures were not impacted until the age of 60. The second study in the article addresses concerns that the recertification is not tailored to meet the needs of internists who have become very specialized in practice. The research team analyzed the performance on the 1980 Recertification Examination according to subspecialty concentration for ten different content areas. Their analysis confirmed that subspecialists do better than general internists on items related to their specialty. Furthermore, those interested in the subspecialty but not certified, performed better than those with no expressed interest. The researchers include that certification should be designed to test both general internal medicine as well as relevant subspecialties.

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