Medical boards are considering more stringent certification procedures that would require physicians to take recertification tests more frequently, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Prior to the 1970s, physicians were not required to recertify at all. Once they earned their initial certification, they were certified for life. Now, physicians are required to pass a closed-book exam every 10 years in order to maintain certification. More recently, boards have begun requiring doctors to demonstrate their medical knowledge more frequently. For example, the American Board of Internal Medicine, which certifies 25% of U.S. physicians, has begun requiring physicians to complete activities that demonstrate they are current in their medical knowledge and taking steps to improve care at intervals of two and five years to maintain their certification. Physicians can show their knowledge in a variety of ways including open-book tests and assessments of their practice. The board will also begin publicly reporting which physicians are meeting the new requirements on its website. Physicians who received certification prior to 1990 are technically certified for life and do not demonstrate their knowledge to keep their certification. However, physicians who do not meet the new requirements will be shown as “not meeting requirements” on the website. Some physicians argue that the new board certification requirements demand a significant financial and time investment that takes away from their patients. After all, physicians must also earn continuing medical education credits to maintain their state licenses. Some physician groups have gone so far as to file lawsuits. For now, the requirements are here to stay, and physicians would be wise to stay on top of them if they wish to stay in good standing. Be sure to visit your medical board’s website for more information on its certification requirements.