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Am J Prev Med. 1994 Sep-Oct;10(5):251-8.

Board certification among preventive medicine residency graduates: characteristics, advantages, and barriers.

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Preventive Medicine Residency Program, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD.


In 1991, a mail survey was conducted of graduates (1979-1989) of general preventive medicine/public health (GPM/PH) residency programs to obtain information about the graduates' demographic characteristics, training, and present professional work. Specifically, we evaluated the survey data for percentage of graduates with board certification, advantages of board certification, and barriers to board certification in preventive medicine (PM). The survey response rate was 74% (797 of 1,070 graduates). Only 45% of the respondents were board certified in PM as of 1991. The percentage of respondents board certified in PM was highest among military PM residency graduates and lowest among those from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) PM residency. Reasons for not taking the board examination included the perception of limited benefit of board certification in current employment or professional endeavors, previous board certification in a clinical specialty, lack of a master of public health (MPH) degree, high cost and time commitment for the examination, and uncertainty about examination admission requirements. PM residency graduates with board certification in PM were more likely to be involved in public health and preventive medicine programs, devoted more time to administration and management, and earned more income than those PM residency graduates without PM board certification. Increasing the percentage of residency graduates who pursue PM board certification will require increasing the advantages of certification for practice, encouraging all residents to identify themselves as practicing the specialty of PM, and addressing the unique concerns of physicians who train both in PM and in a purely or primarily clinical specialty.

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