20 Apr 1995
Dr. Daniel Seckinger's editorial in the current CAP Today concerns the voluntary recertification program which the American Board of Pathology will initiate on January 1, 1996. According to the Seckinger piece, the program will feature "eight basic elements," which I have listed below, each of which is followed by my own comment:
Comment: Well, that makes sense. It's hard to be recertified, unless you have been certified once already. OK, so we're off to a good start!
Comment: That makes sense. It is probably impossible to maintain competence in pathology over the years if you don't practice it. Still, this is a rather odd requirement. If the purpose of recertification is to have a paper to wave in the face of a managed care group to prove your worth, the first thing they're going to look for is your medical license. This is a no-brainer. It's sort of like saying, "OK, we'll recertify you, but we're gonna have to see some pretty solid documentation that you are a carbon-based life form."
Comment: Which in the case of pathology means that rigor mortis has not yet set in.
Comment: To paraphrase President Eisenhower, "Beware the Board/CME complex." I don't know if you've noticed it, but pathology CME has become incredibly expensive. Even as pathologists' incomes have plummeted, the CMEisters continue to boost tuition fees. When you have, say, 300 pathologists show up at a three-day course and pay $500 each, that's a gross of $150,000. You can make an awful lot of nice Kodachromes for that kind of cash. [I got that decimal right, didn't I?]
Comment: What does that have to do with the individual's competence? The best pathologist in the world can find himself/herself working for a company or another pathologist in charge of a non-accredited lab. "Am I my employer's keeper?" This seems like Old Testament justice: "And the BOARD was displeased with the Pathologites, so hath he cast down not only them, but their servants, yea even all members of their households, into a fiery pit."
Comment: I don't know what this means, but I would wonder if it would leave pathologist-employees of reference labs out in the cold. Also, at least in these parts (Houston, Texas), you can't get on a hospital medical staff in pathology based on your own professional credentials by themselves. You also have to be an owner or employee of the pathology practice which has an exclusive contract with the hospital for pathology services. It seems that this requirement tends to favor maintenance of the ancien regime.
No comment: It'll be fun to see how they bell this cat! ;)
Comment: Woooo! I'm impressed. The Board goes high-tech. Five'll-get-you-ten that the exam will be DOS format only, though. But I'll bet the Board will be glad to sell you whiny Mac jockeys a copy of SoftPC at list price plus a tiny little markup for "handling." ;)
AND HERE'S THE BEST PART...
Re-accreditation can be yours for the ridiculously low price of $1000 (and I did get that decimal right). Plus another $1500 or so for those of you who'll have to buy a computer.
Call now... operators are standing by: (813) 286-2444