COVID-19 Boosts Number of Docs Seeking Obesity Certification

Medscape (02/10/21) Doheny, Kathleen

The number of doctors pursuing American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) certification is surging, with this year's total applicants topping last year's by 40%. Roughly 1,400 physicians are scheduled to take the ABOM certification exam in the Feb. 18-25 testing period at computer-based testing sites in North America and via live remote proctoring. In its inaugural certification conferral year in 2012, 224 doctors became ABOM diplomates, and that number currently stands at 4,152. If all this year's applicants pass, more than 5,500 doctors will be certified in obesity medicine in the United States and Canada. Internists constitute the largest percentage of obesity-certified physicians, with 1,512 diplomates. Certification as an ABOM diplomate means the doctors have specialized knowledge in the practice of obesity medicine and have "achieved competency in obesity care." Applicants must possess an active, unrestricted medical license, proof of active certification in a primary board, and proof of completion of a residency in the United States or Canada. They can achieve certification by meeting either continuing medical education or fellowship requirements. John Cleek, MD, ABOM's board chairman and medical director of obesity medicine at Roper St. Francis Physician Partners in Charleston, S.C., said the American Board of Medical Specialties does not recognize obesity medicine as a specialty, adding "that would be an alternative or an option" in the future. In addition to the growing number of people with obesity, there are several factors behind the increased interest in obesity medicine, including the COVID-19 pandemic, a better understanding obesity, and more options for treatment.

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