I vowed not to blog for a couple of weeks, because I have lots of SAMs to catch up on at night by December 31st. Self-assessment modules, that is. You see, in the age of MOC, it is not enough just to go to conferences and perform the CME (Continuing Medical Education) that has been required by pathologists throughout the ages. I was part of the lucky class to be the first group required to participate in MOC. Maybe in other fields MOC has already been in place, but in pathology it just started four years ago. So now, as a part of CME, we have to find and purchase activities that mandate a pre and post test. Not only that, but we also have to get peer reviews and prove that we are part of a QA/QC (quality assurance and control) activity at our hospital. I haven't figured out exactly how to do that yet, but as the head of microbiology I do attend the QA/QC meetings once a month so I am hoping that will do.
Luckily, SAMs were waived for the first three years, because they were not well set up or readily available. I spent about three hours on the computer last week searching for, and paying for SAMs activities. I have to read 10 journal articles from a respected path journal and pay (did I already mention the pay?) to take pre and post tests.
I was sharing my finds with my co-hort who is a year behind me today, and lamenting over the fact that each module took at least half, if not all of the hour of credit that I received at the end of the testing. Aside from conferences, I am used to these CME activities that my group participates in taking a mere fraction of the time rewards doled out. You know - 20-30 minutes for 5 hours. Another one takes about an hour for 10 hour credits. Now I need to spend about an hour a night to get all caught up by the deadline. Don't get me wrong - I think keeping up with one's field is paramount to being a good professional, I just resent being forced to do it someone else's way and document it meticulously. For me, it takes the fun out of it.
I am currently collecting documents for Phase 2 of reporting. I completed Phase 1 a couple of years after passing my general boards. I had a heart-stopping moment this summer when I received a call from the American Board of Pathology. It was August - I had just sold my house, had six weeks to find another, and was facing the same time frame until my divorce trial. The intercom went off in my office.
"Dr. Shyder, you have a call from someone from the American Board of Pathology. Do you want me to put them through?"
"What? The American Board of Pathology?" At first I thought surely it is a hoax to get me to talk to some salesman. But if it was a trick, it was a new one. I asked her to put them through.
"Dr. Shyder, this is so-and-so from the American Board of Pathology. You were supposed to report MOC for your fellowship at the end of January. We have been trying to get in touch with you by e-mail for months."
"Oh my gosh! I've had a rough year. I'm usually really good at keeping up with these things, I promise. What does this mean? Is my fellowship license in jeopardy?"
She seemed amused, but reassuring. "No, we just need to update your professional e-mail address." I had accidentally given them .edu instead of .org. "Then you have to fill out a form requesting combined MOC reporting for your fellowship and your general boards, fax it to us, and nothing will be due until the end of the year."
Anyone else have any MOC headaches to share? I'm not looking forward to the board-like exam in six years to continue my AP/CP (anatomic and clinical pathology) board certification. Luckily I do it all at my job - I can't imagine how hard it would be if I had settled into a national lab job reading only GI biopsies or pap smears. But still - combined boards was hard enough when I had just completed my residency and was used to stuffing massive quantities of numerical and graphic facts into my brain like what platelet aggregation patterns flag Von Willebrand's disease vs. aspirin effect and the numerical likelihood of a unit of blood containing different transmissible diseases. Now, if asked to interpret these tests or dole out this information, I can just look that stuff up - I've got it at my fingertips. I sure hope the MOC boards are open book.