AHA Joins New Cardiovascular Certification Group ABCVM

The American Heart Association (AHA) has now formally voted to join several other cardiovascular societies to form a new professional certification board for cardiovascular medicine, to be known as the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine (ABCVM).  

The ABCVM would be independent of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), the current organization providing maintenance of certification for cardiologists along with 20 other internal medicine subspecialties. The ABIM’s maintenance of certification process has been widely criticized for many years and has been described as “needlessly burdensome and expensive.”

The AHA will be joining the American College of Cardiology (ACC), Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA), Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions (SCAI) in forming the ABCVM. 

These four other societies issued a joint statement in September saying that they will apply to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to request an independent cardiology board that follows a “new competency-based approach to continuous certification — one that harnesses the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to sustain professional excellence and care for cardiovascular patients effectively.”

The new board requirements will “de-emphasize timed, high stakes performance exams in the continuous certification process and instead will focus on learning assessments to identify gaps in current knowledge or skills,” the statement noted.

At the time the September statement was issued, the AHA was said to be supportive of the move but was waiting for formal endorsement to join the effort by its board of directors.

That has now happened, with the AHA’s national board of directors voting to provide “full support” for the creation of the proposed ABCVM.

“We enthusiastically join with our colleagues in proposing a new professional certification body to accredit cardiovascular professionals called the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine,” said the association’s volunteer president Joseph C. Wu, MD. “The new ABCVM will be independent of the ABIM and focus on the specific competency-based trainings and appropriate ongoing certifications that align with and strengthen skills for cardiovascular physicians and enhance quality of care for people with cardiovascular disease,” Wu said.

“The AHA joins the consortium to submit the application to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) requesting an independent medical board for cardiovascular medicine. The consortium’s robust proposal harnesses the knowledge, skills, and benchmarks appropriate for professional excellence and delivery of effective, high-quality cardiovascular care,” Wu added.

The leaders of the ABCVM will include professional representatives from the consortium of member organizations, with a specific focus on relevant education, trainings, and supports that recognize the increasing specialization in cardiology and the latest advances in the various subspecialties of cardiovascular medicine, the AHA notes in a statement.

Professional certification by ABIM is a condition of employment for physicians practicing in large hospitals or health systems. A dedicated certification board separate from ABIM will help to ensure that cardiovascular professionals are maintaining the expertise appropriate to high-quality care and improved outcomes for their patients, the AHA said.

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