New Research Shows That Doctors Learn Information Differently When Preparing for Board Exams

ABIM News Release (07/23/19)

The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) and American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) found that physicians learn information differently when preparing for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exams, compared with the normal process of staying up to date on medical advances. An analysis of interviews with 80 primary care physicians who had taken either the ABFM or ABIM MOC exam revealed most subjects prepared by varying from their routines for staying current with medical knowledge. They did this by engaging with a different scope of information and embracing different study methods. Doctors characterized exam preparation as returning to a student/testing mindset. “To prepare for the exam, physicians reviewed a broader range of topics and were motivated by the exam to delve deeper into certain topics than they would during what they routinely do to keep up,” said ABFM's Aimee Eden. “We were also surprised by how many physicians expressed their appreciation for the extra push to study, and a few even enjoyed the exam preparation process.” The authors concluded that understanding physicians' engagement with MOC exams can improve patient care by gaining insights on how MOC programs may feed into better care and by highlighting possible program enhancements for doctors that could yield similar results.

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