The ABFM is Taking My Certification

This is a follow up to last week’s post.  I was under the impression that I could skip the bogus yearly mandates by the American Board of Family Medicine and just take the ridiculous test in seven years as opposed to ten.  Turns out I am wrong and it is more crooked than I thought.  Here is my conversation with their representative:

  • Them: The ABFM wants to remind you about your continuing certification deadline on Dec. 31, 2017.
  • Me: I don’t want to do any of it. I thought I could just take the test in 7 years after my last MOC.
  • Them: Thank you for Contacting the American Board of Family Medicine. Unfortunately, you must complete these activities to maintain your board certification. As you are currently on a 10 year certification cycle, Every 3 years you are required to complete 1 KSA, 1 PI and 50 Family Medicine Points, along with 150 CME credits. To maintain your certification, it is a constant learning process, and thus we require these activities. (I love how they start with “unfortunately”.  They could change that but they won’t so it isn’t unfortunate. It is intended in order to fill there coffers).
  • Me: I don’t want to do any of your activities. Can you put me on the seven-year cycle?
  • Them: We no longer offer the seven year cycle. If you do not complete your stage one requirements, you will lose your certification.

How is this possible?  I have paid thousands of dollars to them. I have passed all my certification and now they can just remove my name like I never certified at all!  For me to do their bullshit I would need to spend another $600 plus $200 per year until my next test. Why is my other CME not good enough for them?  This is extortion.  They have too much power.

Where is Dr. Wes Fisher when I need them?  Why are we all not fighting back?

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  13 comments for “The ABFM is Taking My Certification

  1. Frank Rubino
    March 5, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    ABFM made us an offer you can’t refuse. Or they will break your legs. ABFM has copied this technique from another business organization in the past . They were quite successful in their day. When this business did it, it was illegal. Now it is legal. ABFM is doing the same thing but it is legal.

  2. March 5, 2017 at 7:12 pm


    My ABFM certification lapsed on Dec 31, 2015. I said, “no more” to their bullshit and now I am certified by the NBPAS for what it’s worth. When are docs just going to say, “enough!”

    Thanks for posting!

  3. Theresa
    February 28, 2017 at 4:21 am

    The money is one thing … and an important thing, at that. BUT what really burns me is these STUPID acronyms! WTF? I need a separate degree to understand all this nonsense. Same goes for the MU nightmare. These ABCDEFG’S, XYZZIPPIEYDODAH requirements are meant to make us feel stupid so we just follow along like sheep being afraid of being “FOUND OUT” as someone who doesn’t know WTH they are talking about. LOL

    I HATE THIS CRAP. Let me read about medicine and help my patients and otherwise leave me the hell alone. Just saying.

  4. hawgguy
    February 27, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I object to the complete revocation of board certified status. A formally certified member should be called just that – formally certified or not participating. Or even board eligible. Board-shaming. Unless it is tied to reimbursement or credentialling, who gives a flip. Aye, there’s the rub.

  5. Stephen O'
    February 27, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Palmam avari aurum da. That should be the motto – stuff gold in the greedy palms.
    I heartily recommend reading We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It’s more insightful and accurate than 1984 or Brave New World. (
    You no longer “are” a doctor – you do not own that attribute. You rent the title from an agency, and a board membership with a certain other agency.
    And already, your temporary right to call yourself these things is dripping away like a bleeding polyp, day after day. You are losing your doctor license – right now!
    The only way for you to stay on permanent probation, without entering violation, is to leap through absurd hoops – 1 KSA, 1 PI and 50 Family Medicine Points, for instance. The goal of the boards is to make you feel like sick junkies feel. Every eight hours, you need a fix, or you get sick from withdrawal. You are a suspect that left to his own devices will deviate, you rat! You just want to slag off and do nothing!!
    I have allowed my “green card” of board certification to expire. I am somewhat like those illegal or undocumented foreigners in this country, I suppose. I could be unmasked for what I am!!
    And still, my patients ask me anxiously – “Are you going to be in this practice for a long time, or what? When are you planning to retire? Will you give people advance notice?” These silly people fear being abandoned to a properly certified expert!
    Of course, you can smell a rat. When normal labor markets have a shortage of trained personnel, they bid up the remuneration to experts. This market is far from capitalist. The harder they step on the necks of the trained personnel, the easier it is to sell untrained “patient technicians” to the “customer.” Your next doctor will be making minimum wage +$5! of course, with a SuperApp in hand that makes her/him the equivalent to any other doctor.
    Reap the whirlwind.

  6. Sir Allya Gotta Do Is...
    February 27, 2017 at 8:53 am

    My AAFP bored certification lapsed in December 31, 2016 and I certified with the National Board of Physician and Surgeons. Will see how the hospital deals with it at reappointment time. 1/3 of our system physicians are set to lose their American Board certification and our Medical Officer is in a quandary what to do with all the physicians who are deemed incompetent by the American Board. An alternate board should be an option. Of, course the lobbyists of the prep courses, test centers and highly paid executives are ramping up their efforts to prove their “worth” Nothing short of litigation for taking our ability to make a living will make the sweeping change we need. Interestingly enough, the American Board has shifted funds to untouchable off-shore holdings.

    • Kurt
      March 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      It’s called restraint of trade and if we’d all donate to a legal war chest it might be doable.

  7. Sir Lance-a-lot
    February 27, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Yup, Doug. Last time, I was able to do all of their busshit at once over a few days, and then go get treated like a criminal to take their stupid test, but this time they told me that if I don’t do their stupid stuff after three years (and pay them $200 every year), they will pull my certification (and my ability to feed my family, under current work circumstances), in spite of all those years of college, medical school, residency, experience, and all of that.
    Like Bluto Blutarski said, “Five years of college down the drain.”

    It’s extortion plain and simple, and as far as anyone can tell, it’s legal.

    I’d be happy to join in a class action suit, but I’m not a lawyer, and have no way of starting one myself.

    Personally, I’ve been saying for a couple of years that the health insurers have been engaging in a physically dangerous game (for themselves), as they are screwing a huge number of people in an extremely wide variety of ways, and sooner or later, they will do something that will hurt the wrong person (or his family member), and he will respond in a violent way. Though dealing with a smaller, and slightly less unhinged, group, the specialty boards are getting into similar territory.
    Making people potentially lose their job, their status and their livelihood is a risky business, doctors have a ridiculously high suicide rate as it is, and it only takes one pissed off doctor past the end of his rope to do something the board will regret.

  8. Bill Ameen MD
    February 27, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Yep, Dr. Doug. When Nicholas Pisacano was originally in charge, I could take it every six (or seven) years after I originally certified in 1976 by checking off that I did emergency medicine and didn’t provide long-term care. Other practitioners had to submit real patient paper charts. I continued to get away with that doing urgent care even though many of my patients were being managed for chronic problems. By the time MOC was created, some of my friends had done the open-book tests and told me how ridiculous and disconnected from real practice the tests were, and even failed them and had to re-do. By the time I took it in 2007 I calculated I would be 66 when it expired and I would be damned if I would take it again. By the time I sold my practice in 2010 I was borrowing money against a whole-life policy to pay my bills. I certainly wasn’t going to piss away money on an unnecessary stream of bogus MOC crap when I knew after 40 years of experience I was smarter than the greedy Board. After my certification (and Fellowship) died unceremoniously on Dec. 31, 2014, I am STILL getting emails. Like the AMA, they never give up. Hospitals like mine don’t care…they use hospitalists for in-patient care. If you’re in an office and take insurance, chances are the companies will demand your Board-certification. The solution? DPC…or, in my case, happy retirement (even though I’m STILL smarter than the Board dudes!).

    • Bill Ameen MD
      February 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Nice article about DPC on the back page of today’s Wall Street Journal in the Healthcare supplement. Too bad they didn’t interview you, Dr. Doug!

      • Doug Farrago
        February 27, 2017 at 11:11 am

        I know, right? I do know the doc, though.

      • Louis R. Zako, MD
        March 4, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        Dr. Bill:

        What is “DPC”?

        • Bill Ameen MD
          March 4, 2017 at 5:28 pm

          Direct Primary Care. It’s Doug’s practice now. He’ll be happy to explain. I myself am happily retired except for 6-12 hours of volunteer work monthly and teaching nursing students. In DPC you don’t take insurance. Patients pay a monthly fee to have unlimited visits, the way I understand it.

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