Every 7 or 10 years, I have to retake my medical boards. I am currently board certified, but have to prove it over and over again throughout my career. If I jump through a bunch of hoops, like taking certain designated classes, performing modest in-office studies, and accruing a certain amount of CME between board tests, then I get to retake the boards every 10 years. If I fail to jump through these hoops, then it’s every 7 years.
If I don’t take them at all, I can still practice, but I lose my board certification, and likely if employed (which I am), I could lose my job.
Sounds so boring, right? Let me tell you, it is. Studying for the boards is awful. The last time I took them I was newly married with a bun in the oven and just starting my career. I had time. I had energy. Now I’ve got 2 rowdy kids, with lots of nighttime activities, and a busy practice. It’s harder to study now. I’ve gotten old.
You’d thing just being in practice for the past 10+ years means studying is not necessary. Isn’t every day just a series of pop quizzes for the boards? Sort of. Except answers to questions on the boards don’t always translate to how one practices in the real world. For instance, an MRI might be the right test to order to diagnose a particular illness on the boards, but in real life, the insurance company won’t pay for it, so one orders the ultrasound instead. So I have to study for the test so to speak. What would the right answer be for the boards, not for real life.
The worst part would be to fail. It could happen, you know. I could get cocky. I could be lazy. I could blame my failure on the stressors surrounding this time, like the recent move from a practice that I was in for almost 11 years to another one closer to home, not necessarily because it was closer to home, but because the alternative was intolerable.
Staying was worse than leaving. Leaving was intensely emotional and stressful, not only for me, but for my patients, for some of my previous staff, for the new office, their staff, their providers, and all the administrators that facilitated the move, but it was preferable to the stressors of staying. It was hard, but it was worth it. The move happened right smack dab in the middle of studying for the boards. It happened without much of a plan and it happened quick.
There will be another move at some point. I keep saying a year, but who knows. I have been working with my employers for a while, expressing my desire to move my practice closer to home, sending them pictures in emails of offices for sale or rent in my town, meeting with them over meals, discussing the benefits to the corporation of having a practice closer to them, too. Finally, they emailed me back. None of the locations I had sent them all summer long were appropriate.
Instead, they were going to build a practice. They sent me the plans. We met and brainstormed ideas on how to best use the space. I asked for a “multi-purpose” room for lectures and meetings, but mostly for group yoga.
But it would take time.
In the meantime, I have my boards. I need to pass my boards.