He opens by saying he has no strong opinions on how doctors should be certified but then goes on to express some very strong opinions against the prevailing objections. I'll give him credit for one thing. He correctly points out that there has been very little argument (and, I might add, zero argument of substance) put forth in favor of the recent MOC changes. Instead the specialty boards have just put it out there and said, in effect, “here it is, take it or leave it.”
He goes on to attack three of the objections he says rank-and-file doctors have put forth.
First, that doctors think they are extremely diligent in staying current and therefore don't need MOC. He used as his example a cardiologist interviewed in this Medscape article who in the casual format of the interview wasn't vigilant enough in choosing his words, to make the case that doctors are generally self motivated to stay current. I hope even Mr. Husten would agree with that general premise. But for purposes of his argument he takes the words of the cardiologist literally and carries them to their extreme, thus building a straw man which he can easily ridicule:
Really, Dr. Tierstein? You’ve never met a single physician who had relaxed his standards over time? You’ve never encountered physicians who fail to keep up with important developments? I guess, in your view, all doctors are, like the children of Lake Woebegon, above average.
That is not the argument doctors are making. Husten was stretching the point for purposes of ridicule but I believe I understand what Tierstein was trying to say. The point is that it is the individual physicians who should be mainly responsible for their own learning needs, not some group of outsiders. That's what is known as self assessment and is the original concept, by the way, of MKSAP (which stands for Medical Knowledge Self Assessment Program).
Husten then goes on to build another straw man:
Another argument I’ve heard repeated is that the current continuing medical education (CME) system already provides a perfectly adequate system for MOC.
Again, no one is making the argument that CME is perfectly adequate. Not even Dr. Tierstein in the Medscape interview. In fact, Tierstein's statement about accredited CME is that it is only “pretty good,” not perfect. But Husten rejects even that:
The problem, of course, is that in reality the current CME system is largely funded and controlled by industry...
As I said, CME can play a key role in MOC, but only when the doctors pay for it themselves.
In other words if industry funding is involved there can be no educational value. That's a conveniently simple litmus test but it's empty because there's no evidence of substance to back it up.
The third objection Husten cites is that MOC has not been tested, an argument he dismisses in this manner:
There are many things in life that we all agree are necessary that have not undergone rigorous testing. I’m sure there’s never been a randomized trial demonstrating that 4 years of medical school is better than no medical school, for instance.No one is asking for a randomized trial. But if you want to add significantly to the already onerous baggage doctors carry you ought to sustain a burden of proof at some level. Medical schools have not been subject to randomized trials but their education offerings have been studied extensively. In fact, entire journals are singularly devoted to studying medical school curricula and holding the educational process accountable. MOC likewise needs to be held accountable.
I usually enjoy Husten's articles and find them informative. Unfortunately, and much to my surprise and disappointment, in this particular post he seems to view doctors involved in the discussion as a bunch of whiners.