How the IR Residency affects everyone’s VIR certification with the ABR
By Gretchen Foltz, MD Spring 2017
By this point everyone has at least basic knowledge of the training paradigm shift that is taking place in IR. The transition to the IR Residency from the traditional vascular and interventional radiology (VIR) fellowship after DR residency has been discussed for the better part of the last decade. With that transition currently under way, the American Board of Radiology (ABR) will now officially change how IRs are certified. Traditionally, the ABR issued a DR certificate to candidates after they passed the DR certifying exam and then, for candidates who passed the VIR Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) exam, the ABR issued a VIR subspecialty certificate. Starting in October 2017, candidates passing the IR/DR certifying exam will receive an IR/DR certificate from the ABR.
Interventionalists who have been practicing for 2, 5, 10 or 25+ years and have been certified under the old certification system may be wondering whether this change affects them. The answer is an emphatic yes. To fully understand how, it is important to know the duration of your subspecialty certificate.
Over the past several years, two iterations of certificates have been issued.
- Valid for 10 years
- Certificates have an expiration date
- Maintenance of Certification (MOC) participation is required to maintain certification.
- The last time-limited certificates will expire on Dec. 31, 2021.
- Do not have a “valid through” date
- Their ongoing validity requires MOC participation
Currently, ABR diplomates can have a lifetime, time-limited or continuous DR certificate, as well as a time-limited or continuous VIR subspecialty certificate. If you are unsure of your certificate type, log in to your myABR account. This summer, the ABR will contact all diplomates currently holding a VIR subspecialty certificate to provide them with their options and ask if they want to convert their VIR subspecialty certificate to an IR/DR certificate. Saying yes will mean that your certification with the ABR will be a continuous IR/DR certificate. To maintain this certification, you will need to comply with all MOC activities outlined by the ABR.
Your existing DR-only certificate will no longer appear on the public listing since the new IR/DR certificate encompasses both components. If you have additional subspecialty certifications with the ABR (i.e., neuroradiology, pediatric radiology, nuclear medicine, pain medicine, or hospice and palliative medicine), you will still need to maintain those subspecialty certifications. If at any point you wish to drop the IR portion of your continuous IR/DR certificate, your original DR certificate will be restored to the duration of the DR certificate issued prior to the IR/DR conversion. For example, if you originally had a lifetime DR certificate and converted to a continuous IR/DR certificate and then at any point you drop the IR portion of this certificate, you would regain your lifetime DR certificate. A diplomate can never drop the DR portion of the certificate and have an IR certificate only.
Under the new system, if you decide not to convert your time-limited VIR subspecialty certificate, your existing certificate will remain valid through its current expiration date. In addition, any continuous VIR subspecialty certificate will cease to be valid at the time of the conversion.
The bottom line is that, if you have a VIR subspecialty certificate, you must convert to remain IR certified.