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Pⁿ Blog
The Pⁿ Blog is a forum for opinions, questions, controversies, and instructive discussions across the field of pathology and its relevant subspecialties.
Monday, February 11, 2013
A Narrow Window of Opportunity.
This blog is for those of us more "seasoned" pathologists who hold open-ended board certifications from the American Board of Pathology that do not have expiration dates. 
Although we might all wish to assume that we will be permanently immune from the issues of SAM's and recertification examinations, the reality is that state agencies and third party payers, including the government, may take an increasingly negative view of such open-ended certifications and require recertification even if the board itself does not.  There is a window of opportunity for voluntary recertification by the American Board of Pathology that does not require an examination (though you CAN take one if you wish).  However, this window closes on July 1, 2013 and applications should be submitted well before that date.  After that date, all recertifications will be accompanied by an examination and appropriate proof of SAMs and CMEs.
The recertification application is somewhat lengthy but straightforward.  It can easily be completed in a few hours if you have the appropriate documents reasonably at hand. The basic requirements are that you must currently hold a board certification in AP, CP, or AP/CP, hold a valid medical license in the state in which you primarily practice, and have medical staff privileges with an accredited health care organization.  There is an additional requirement for 150 hours of CME during the last three years, 100 hours of which must be category 1 and 80 hours of that must be related specifically to the applicants area of practice.  Basically you must demonstrate that you are activey practicing pathology and are in good standing with your affiliated institution. 
The fee for voluntary recertification without examination is $1000.00 and the recertification certificate is valid for 10 years.  You may reasonably ask what happens to your original open-ended certification if you decide to recertify?  The answer is, "nothing." It remains in effect during and more importantly after any recertification expires so you re not stepping outside of the "grandfather" pool by voluntarily recertifying.  
Information regarding voluntary recertification and the application itself can be easily found on the American Board of Pathology website (
Given the increasing demands of hospital, state and insurance companies with regard to certification, voluntary "exam free" recertification seems to me to head off at least this aspect of potential credentialing problems for the next decade.  Most of my senior colleagues at the University of Virginia have elected to take this opportunity while it still exists.  The choice, of course, is entirely up to you, but you should at least consider the option now while there is still time.
I agree that we should do it. That said, all that is accomplished is wasting a few hours collecting documents and shelling a $1000 for a worthless piece of paper. Are a you a better pathologists for doing it? Certainly not.
About the Author

Stacey E. Mills, MD
Stacey E. Mills, MD, a graduate of University of Virginia (UVA) and the UVA Medical Center, has authored nearly 230 articles, 20+ books, atlases and monographs—including the renowned Sternberg's Diagnostic Surgical Pathology. He has been a practicing Professor and Staff Pathologist at UVA for 30+ years and is Director of Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology. His clinical specialty is general surgical pathology with emphasis on neoplasms and neoplasm-like lesions. Dr. Mills is also Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Surgical Pathology.