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Ensuring Ongoing Physician Competency with CATALYST

Shaffer D, Waters S.  Ensuring Ongoing Physician Competency with CATALYST.  Presentation delivered at the 2019 Meeting of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities, Chicago, IL, September 2019.



The purpose of maintenance of certification in the United States is to ensure ongoing physician competency in order to safeguard patient safety. In recent years, maintenance of certification, with its generally unpopular traditional, high-stakes, multiple-choice examination, has been criticized as a cost-prohibitive process that is not relevant to physicians’ clinical practice. In response, some specialty Boards, among them the American Board of Anesthesiology, the American Board of Pediatrics, and the American Board of Internal Medicine, have implemented alternative assessment formats that focus on facilitating physician’s continued learning.

In keeping with its mission, the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME) has developed CATALYST, a longitudinal assessment designed to provide specialty Boards with a potential means of assessing ongoing physician competency. CATALYST is based on findings from cognitive learning which emphasize the retrieval of previously learned content, providing immediate feedback, spacing questions over time, and interleaving topics. The NBOME, in conjunction with the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) conducted 16-week pilot studies to gather data concerning how diplomates from three osteopathic specialty boards viewed the CATALYST assessment platform and the assessment process. Participants were recruited from the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine (AOBIM), the American Osteopathic Board of Pediatrics (AOBP), and the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOBOG).

Results indicated overwhelming support for the CATALYST platform: of the 196 diplomates surveyed, 95% agreed or strongly agreed that CATALYST would help them stay current in their specialty and 91% thought it would help them take better care of their patients. Over 98% stated that they would rather answer a fixed number of CATALYST questions periodically than take the traditional recertification examination.

This presentation will describe the use of CATALYST as an assessment format and summarize the outcomes of the pilot studies and their outcomes. As well, next steps for CATALYST, including the development of a new technology platform, will be discussed. Lessons learned will assist participants in considering exploration or potential enhancement of similar programs in their jurisdictions.


Behavioral Learning Objectives

By attending this presentation, attendees will be able to:
• Explain the elements of cognitive learning theory that support CATALYST as a longitudinal assessment.
• Describe the outcomes of the pilot studies with diplomates of three osteopathic specialty boards.
• Describe next steps for CATALYST.



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