Frequently Asked LEAD Questions

ABFAS has prepared a question-and-answer that lists several questions Diplomates frequently ask about the shift to the new LEAD program of Continuous Certification. More information is available on the LEAD webpage. If you have additional questions about the program, feel free to email ABFAS.

 

  • When will the LEAD program begin?
    All Diplomates will begin participating in the LEAD program in January 2022, regardless of certification expiration date.
  • Why is ABFAS shifting to the LEAD program?
    ABFAS’ mission is to protect public health. Prior to certification, we focus on ensuring high standards in foot and ankle surgery. Post-certification, we augment our mission by also supporting Diplomates in keeping their knowledge, judgement, and skills current over the course of their careers—and the LEAD program represents a powerful new tool to help ensure the continued success of board-certified foot and ankle surgeons. The public benefits by ABFAS Diplomates participating in LEAD.

    The desire to explore alternatives to the traditional, once-every-ten-year recertification and self-assessment examinations stems from recent trends in the recertification processes for member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

    One of the main features of the new LEAD program of Continuous Certification will be your opportunity to demonstrate continual competence through bite-sized learning assessments. LEAD will replace the traditional, once-every-ten-years recertification and self-assessment examinations.
  • When and how was the LEAD program approved?

    The ABFAS Board of Directors appointed a task force to work on this change in 2018. In 2019, ABFAS announced the shift to Continuous Certification and conducted a survey of all Diplomates regarding their preference for a Continuous Certification program to replace ten-year recertification exams. More than 70 percent of survey respondents were in favor of a Continuous Certification program. The ABFAS Board of Directors approved the shift to Continuous Certification, which will go live in January 2022.

  • I recently recertified. Why do I need to start the LEAD program in 2022?
    The LEAD program emphasizes continuous, lifelong learning and provides an educational benefit to Diplomates. ABFAS anticipates that the LEAD program will be less burdensome, not more, than the now-retired ABFAS recertification and self-assessment exams. LEAD is not a pass/fail exam and Diplomates will no longer need to travel to a testing center; they’ll be able to complete each quarter’s questions where and when they choose on their own computer, laptop, or mobile device.
  • I already get CEs and educate myself, and I already met your recertification requirements recently. Why do I need to do this additional program?
    The LEAD program represents a shift from the now-retired ABFAS recertification and self-assessment exams to one of continuous, lifelong learning. LEAD is a powerful new tool to help ensure the continued success of Board Certified foot and ankle surgeons. ABFAS wants every Diplomate to participate right away when the program launches in 2022. Diplomates will receive instantaneous feedback on questions, keeping their skills sharp and protecting the public by ensuring rigorous standards. Other medical specialty boards are also moving in this direction.
  • I am certified in both Foot and RRA. Do I need to complete the LEAD program twice, once for each certification?
    No, the program will account for both certifications. You will see a combination of Foot and RRA Surgery content when completing the assessments.
  • Will the shift to the LEAD program change my certification expiration date?
    The shift to Continuous Certification does not change your current certification cycle. Your certification is valid through your current expiration date. If you participate and meet program requirements, your certificate will renew at the ten-year date.
  • What is the cost of the LEAD program?
    The LEAD program of Continuous Certification will be funded through your annual fee, not an additional, separate recertification examination fee.
  • Why is ABFAS using the MDT method?
    ABFAS is using MDT based on research and analysis of medical specialty boards that adopted MDT for their Continuous Certification programs.
  • What is MDT?
    Measurement Decision Theory (MDT) is the method ABFAS uses to analyze Diplomates’ performance on the Continuous Certification LEAD assessment.
  • How do I interpret my MDT p-value?
    Your MDT p-value is the probability you are keeping up with topics relevant to the practice of foot and ankle surgery. ABFAS bases this probability calculation on how you answer LEAD questions.
  • How is an MDT p-value different from a pass/fail score?
    As the Diplomate answers each question in the assessment, the system continuously calculates the probability (or MDT p-value) that the Diplomate is keeping up with topics relevant to the practice of foot and ankle surgery.
  • What is the minimum standard I must meet and by when do I need to meet it?
    For Diplomates with time-limited certificates (certified after 1990): The current LEAD Performance Requirement is an MDT p-value of 0.1. This means if a Diplomate’s calculated MDT p-value is lower than 0.1, there is a probability of less than 10 percent the Diplomate is keeping up to date with their knowledge. All Diplomates must be at or above the MDT standard by the end of their ten-year Foot Surgery certification cycle (by June 30 of their certification expiration year). There will be a separate MDT p-value for RRA Surgery, so if a Diplomate holds an RRA Surgery Certification, they must be at or above the RRA Surgery MDT p-value standard on June 30 of their ten-year RRA Surgery certification cycle (by June 30 of their certification expiration year).

    For Diplomates with a lifetime certificate (certified before 1991): Diplomates will be able to track their performance on the LEAD site and use the results to guide their continuing medical education. ABFAS does not require that lifetime certificate holders meet the MDT performance requirement to maintain certification.
  • Why am I so far above the MDT standard?
    Historically, ABFAS Diplomates have very high rates of successful completion of the previous Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirement of recertification exams. Therefore, we expect that most Diplomates are keeping up with emerging surgical knowledge and will have a high MDT p-value (i.e., ABFAS anticipates a high probability that they are keeping up).
  • What happens if I fall below the MDT standard? How can I improve my MDT p-value?
    For all Diplomates regardless of certificate type: You will have multiple opportunities to improve your MDT status by answering questions in any upcoming quarters available in your certification cycle. Please note that a Diplomate can answer a maximum of 30 questions per quarter. 

    For Diplomates with time-limited certificates (certified after 1990): Your MDT p-value is evaluated only on June 30 of your certification expiration year. You can instantaneously track your MDT p-value in your online LEAD dashboard at any time during your certification cycle. If your MDT p-value falls below the standard before June 30 of your certification expiration year, you may still have an opportunity to improve your MDT p-value by improving your performance on the LEAD assessment. Your ability to improve depends on how many quarters you have left until June of your certification expiration year and the action you take to improve your surgical practice knowledge.  

    If your MDT p-value is below the 0.10 standard on June 30 of your certification expiration year, your certification will expire on August 31 of your certification expiration year.
  • What happens if I don't participate in the LEAD program?
    Every Diplomate must participate in the LEAD program. The program was created with the busy Diplomate in mind and is flexible to accommodate surgeons’ busy schedules. At minimum, all Diplomates must participate in twelve quarters of LEAD during each five-year period within their ten-year cycle.
  • What happens if I forget to participate in the LEAD program and I accidentally let my certification expire?
    You can instantly track your progress in your LEAD dashboard and ABFAS encourages you to do so frequently. ABFAS will also regularly communicate with all Diplomates on their Continuous Certification status, primarily via email. ABFAS staff will engage in multiple attempts to contact any Diplomate whose certification is in jeopardy of expiring. Please ensure you have a current email address on file in your ABFAS online profile.
  • For how long will I participate in the LEAD program during my ten-year certification cycle?
    Diplomates will show continual competence through bite-sized learning assessments. ABFAS designs these assessments to be completed within short periods of time and offers Diplomates the opportunity to learn more about the topic through pointed articles and studies. Diplomates will have the opportunity to see which areas require more attention to develop their skills and which areas they have shown improvement as they progress through the assessments. All Diplomates must complete a minimum of twelve quarters during each five-year period within their ten-year cycles and can track their progress in their LEAD dashboards. 
  • How many questions do I need to answer to complete the LEAD program?

    The program is broken down into three-month quarter intervals in which each Diplomate will have the opportunity to answer 30 questions per quarter. All Diplomates must complete a minimum of twelve quarters during each five-year period within their ten-year cycles.