From ABR President Brent Wagner’s article, “ABR, Stakeholders Remaining Flexible During Uncertain Times,” in the May issue of the BEAM:
For the ABR, as it became clear that standard exam development activities would not be effective in the short term, staff and volunteer content experts quickly made adjustments: test assembly activities for upcoming exams were revised to use remote conferencing software. While this is often not optimal for the volunteers, the modification to the process promised to support continued success in exam creation that would be relevant and cost effective.
The real stakeholders here are the residents who should be taking a live-proctored test from the comfort of their home next month.
The volunteers who do the heavy lifting of test creation may have been given the flexibility to volunteer from home, but so far the ABR has been unwilling to “remain flexible” enough to do the right thing and make remote testing a reality like the American Board of Surgery recently successfully demonstrated. Even the NBME has temporarily canceled USMLE Step 2 CS with the understanding that nationwide travel is simply inappropriate for a healthcare-related examination involving scores of doctors for the foreseeable future.
Some financial considerations are almost certainly tied to this desperate need to have a live in-person exam that no one has ever wanted, but departing highly-compensated Executive Director Valerie Jackson said this in her departing missive:
Another big part of my life has been volunteering. Over the years, some of my friends have wondered why I would give so much of my time for no pay. The reward isn’t monetary; better than money for me was the sense of giving back, the ability to work with wonderful people who are now long-term friends, and having an impact on many facets of our profession.
I did, however, like the final paragraph of incoming ABR President Robert Barr’s entry:
We still have work to do. We need to keep costs down, we need to ensure that testing is meaningful and accurate, and we need to improve the overall test experience for our candidates, among other challenges. We are working on all of these today. I hope you’ll give us a chance, and I welcome your suggestions and constructive feedback.
I would love nothing more than for the ABR to pivot and start making the correct operational and strategic decisions to succeed in those areas. The ACR recently made some suggestions.