Photo: The Adolescent Subboard meets virtually with ABP staff.
Throughout a typical year, hundreds of board-certified pediatricians leave their hospitals and private practices to travel to the ABP office in Chapel Hill, NC, to participate as volunteers in multi-day board, subboard, and committee meetings. There they write examination questions, determine scoring standards, and conduct other business of the ABP.
But 2020 was not a typical year. When the spread of the novel coronavirus surged in March, the ABP had to adapt. All in-person meetings were immediately canceled. Not only did travel come to a standstill, but pediatricians needed to stay in their local communities to change the way they practiced, focus on their patients, and sometimes, help their colleagues with adult patients.
As the pandemic disrupted training and changed practice, the work of the ABP to adapt certification to a changed environment became more important than ever. Although some exams had been postponed, most were not. The ABP volunteers still needed to meet, and like the rest of the world, they began holding their meetings virtually. In multiple blocks of a few hours stretched over two or three days, the work of the ABP continued.
“I have been impressed at how quickly and efficiently the ABP staff and subboards have adopted virtual platforms to allow the subboards to safely continue their work,” says S. Todd Callahan, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Health at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “The Adolescent Medicine Subboard meetings have been well organized, efficient, productive, and fun. While we miss seeing each other in person, it is great to have the flexibility of meeting virtually when the need arises.” Dr. Callahan chairs the Adolescent Medicine subboard in 2021.
To stay current on the rapidly changing environment and challenges presented by the pandemic and discuss and vote on resulting policy changes, the ABP Board of Directors switched from meeting in person three times a year to meeting virtually every six weeks.
“As usual, ABP management updated the Board on new issues, and we all worked diligently and thoughtfully to develop solutions to difficult scenarios while also maintaining the standards of pediatric medicine,” says Victoria Norwood, MD, 2020 Chair of the ABP Board of Directors and The Robert J. Roberts Professor of Pediatrics and Division Head of Pediatric Nephrology at University of Virginia Health. “We recognized the enormous struggles faced by certified pediatricians, including those of us serving on the Board. We also celebrated the amazing ways pediatricians stepped up to innovatively meet those challenges. I am honored to be working with such a strong team as, together, we face these challenges on behalf of the health of children and families.”