Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Stay current on medical, surgical, and aesthetic dermatology developments with Dermatology Weekly, a podcast featuring news relevant to the practice of dermatology, and peer-to-peer interviews with Doctor Vincent A. DeLeo, who interviews physician authors from Cutis on topics such as psoriasis, skin cancer, atopic dermatitis, hair and nail disorders, cosmetic procedures, environmental dermatology, contact dermatitis, pigmentation disorders, acne, rosacea, alopecia, practice management, and more. Plus, resident discussions geared toward physicians in-training. Subscribe now.

The information in this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only.


Feb 6, 2020

Dermatologists had concerns about the maintenance of certification (MOC) program and the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) listened. Dr. Vincent DeLeo speaks with Dr. Erik Stratman about how CertLink, the ABD’s new web-based assessment platform, makes continuing certification activities more accessible and more meaningful to clinical practice. Dr. Stratman notes, “We [ABD] recognized that the program [MOC] had faults. In 2015, after our first 10 years of experiences, we decided to take a hard look at the program. . . . The American Board of Dermatology decided to take on some of the education on its own shoulders and create activities that could be made more affordable, more meaningful, less time, and that’s where ideas such as CertLink . . . came to be.”

*   *   *

We bring you the latest in dermatology news and research:

  1. Social media may negatively influence acne treatment
    Patients follow advice found on social media that doesn't match up with AAD guidelines.
  2. High cost of wound dressings for epidermolysis bullosa highlighted
    Dressing and bandage costs were highest for study participants with the generalized severe subtype, at about $112,450 per patient annually.
  3. New Barbie lineup includes a doll with vitiligo
    The doll debuts much to the delight of clinicians who treat children and adolescents with the condition.

*   *   *

Things you will learn in this episode:

  • CertLink is a web-based longitudinal assessment platform designed as an alternative to the high-stakes sit-down examination.
  • Rather than generating questions on random medical knowledge, CertLink allows dermatologists to tailor the test to highlight specific subspecialties that are more relevant to their individual areas of clinical practice. “It allows the diplomate to tailor the assessment to be more relevant to what they do in practice every day,” advises Dr. Stratman. “And that’s one of the ways that we’ve tried to tackle the question of relevance so that [diplomates are] maximizing the kinds of questions that reflect their practice.”
  • Once ABD diplomates start the CertLink program, they are issued a set of 13 questions every quarter for the rest of their active board-certified lives. The questions can be accessed all at once or one at a time, depending on how the dermatologist wants to take the assessment.
  • Questions come in 3 varieties: core questions (general dermatology); concentration, vignette-based questions (subspecialties); and article-based questions (eg, new guidelines, therapies, side effects).
  • Because the new assessment program is designed to be taken continuously throughout one’s career, all diplomates are permitted to take 1 quarter off each year as a break from the testing.
  • Larger-scale participation in the CertLink program over time will be necessary to develop accurate measures of performance for the new test. “We want to get as many diplomates as possible on board with this testing platform so that they can gain experience, and we recognize that within these early years there’s going to be a nonuniform uptake of joining on to CertLink, so there’s basically a 2-year onboarding window that we anticipate,” Dr. Stratman notes.
  • CertLink includes a learn-to-competence element that allows diplomates to learn from wrong answers without penalty. “When you first see a question in a particular quarter and you answer that question and you happen to get it wrong . . . you will get an explanation of why was that right answer right and why were each of the wrong answers wrong, so there’s a little opportunity for learning,” Dr. Stratman explains. The diplomate then will receive a very similar question in the following quarter, and only then will the response count toward the assessment grade.
  • The CertLink platform launched on January 6, 2020, to a cohort of more than 4500 board-certified dermatologists. In the first week, more than 800 dermatologists answered test questions with a correct response rate of more than 97%.
  • The next sign-on period for CertLink is in May 2020. “When you see an inbox email from the [ABD], it’s worth opening and reading. We don’t try and sell you products, we aren’t spamming you. If there’s something from the [ABD], it’s worth the read,” Dr. Stratman advises.


Hosts: Elizabeth Mechcatie; Terry Rudd; Vincent A. DeLeo, MD (Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles)

Guests: Erik J. Stratman, MD (Marshfield Clinic Health System, Wisconsin)

*   *   *

Show notes by: Alicia Sonners, Melissa Sears, Elizabeth Mechcatie

You can find more of our podcasts at     

Email the show:
Interact with us on Twitter: @MDedgeDerm