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Who Claims to Be a Pediatrician?

Freed GL, Uren RL, Hudson EJ, Lakhani I; Research Advisory Committee of the American Board of Pediatrics
Journal of Pediatrics
Pub Med #: 

The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of physicians who self or otherwise declare themselves to be pediatricians but who have never achieved board certification.

Study Design
We compared a roster from the state licensure file of eight geographically diverse states containing those designated as pediatricians with a listing from the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) of those who had ever achieved board certification. We then sent a mail survey to a sample of 500 physicians who appeared as pediatricians on the state licensure files but for whom there was no record of certification with the ABP.

The proportion of unmatched pediatricians ranges from 6.9% in Massachusetts to 16.8% in Maryland, and averages 11% across all of the states in our study. The survey response rate was 64%. The majority (61%) of respondents described having undertaken residency training in categorical pediatrics or medicine-pediatrics. The remainder reported surgical residencies (31%) or were combined into an "other" category (8%). Eighty-five percent reported having completed 3 or more years of postgraduate training. Almost all (94%) completed training in the United States or Canada.

There is increasing attention to board certification and patient safety among the media and public. A clearer delineation of the proportion of physicians in a given state reporting to be pediatricians who have not completed board certification can help inform parents of the odds they will encounter noncertified physicians in the hospitals and among the health plans in which they seek care for their children.