Following intense pressure, American Board of Radiology plans to virtually administer exams beginning in 2021

Amid intense pressure, the American Board of Radiology announced Monday afternoon that it will virtually administer its exams beginning in 2021.

Radiologists across the country had pushed for a 2020 offering of online testing. However, the Tucson, Arizona-based doc-certification group noted that it could not start with the transition until next year.

“We have seen and heard legitimate concerns from candidates, program directors, department chairs and other stakeholders, and have considered many options to safely administer our exams in the least disruptive fashion while preserving their integrity,” ABR said in a letter to constituents Monday afternoon. “In consideration of these concerns, the ABR is moving all currently unscheduled and future oral and computer-based exams to virtual platforms beginning in the first half of 2021, which is the earliest we can confidently deliver these exams without potential delays,” it added later.

Here’s a quick breakdown for what candidates, program directors and other stakeholder groups can expect next year:

  • The Diagnostic Radiology Core Exam will be administered remotely in February 2021 for candidates who would have taken the 2020 exams. It will move to June 2021 for the rising R3 candidates, as originally planned. ABR will also move to a virtual platform for the DR Certifying Exam set to be administered twice next year. Same for the RISE and Subspecialty exams.
  • Interventional/Diagnostic Radiology Core Exams will be administered remotely in February, too, for candidates who would have taken exams in 2020. And they’ll be in June 2021 as well for the rising R3 candidates, as planned previously. Likewise, ABR will use a virtual platform for written and oral portions of the IR/DR Certifying Exam, to be administered twice in 2021.
  • Medical Physics Part 1 and Part 2 exams are still set for administration at the Pearson VUE centers Dec. 7-8, with ABR anticipating they’ll be open at that time. “However, we are watching the situation closely,” the board noted. Meanwhile, MP 1 and 2 will be given virtually in 2021, and Part 3 will come as a virtual oral exam, starting in the first half of 2021.
  • Radiation Oncology tests covering biology and physics, along with clinical exams, are also still slated to occur at Pearson Vue in December. And RO qualifying exams will similarly move to virtual administration in 2021.

ABR noted that on all four fronts, it plans to “engage our various stakeholder groups to provide input on the final dates and details for these exams.”

“We apologize for the disruption caused by these exam postponements,” ABR concluded its letter, adding that it plans to share final dates for virtual testing no later than Aug. 1. “We are committed to this new paradigm for future exams and look forward to working with our stakeholders on implementation. We thank you for your patience as we work together through this unprecedented public health challenge,” the letter concluded.

Several major imaging groups implored ABR earlier this month to devise substitute means of delivering its tests in 2020, rather than postponing them until next year. Absent such an alternative, practices could sustain a “devastating impact” in recruitment and care delivery, the newly formed Multispecialty Early Radiologic Career Coalition said June 8.