Leaning into Learning Tech: How ABEM is Transforming Certification for Healthcare Professionals Blog Feature

Leaning into Learning Tech: How ABEM is Transforming Certification for Healthcare Professionals

Did you know that people in America go to the emergency department 150 million times each year? Research shows that nearly 80% of surveyed adults prefer a physician to lead their medical care in an emergency, compared to a registered nurse (85%), nurse practitioner (6%), or physician assistant (5%). But in an emergency, there's no time for doubt. It's important to trust that loved ones are being treated by a board-certified emergency physician who has demonstrated knowledge and competence in Emergency Medicine. 

To ensure the highest standards, the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM) grants certification to physicians who specialize in Emergency Medicine and its various subspecialties. Certification in the healthcare field not only validates competence but also leads to improved patient outcomes, higher-quality care, and enhanced professional opportunities. It serves as a testament to the ongoing commitment of healthcare professionals to stay updated with the ever-evolving knowledge and skills required in their field. inline - intro Leaning Into Learning TechResearch shows that board-certified physicians have lower mortality rates, better patient outcomes, and provide higher-quality care compared to non-certified physicians. Also, physicians holding certification have more job opportunities and increased outcomes.

In a recent poll, 76% of surveyed adults feel board certification for emergency physicians is very important. ABEM is committed to maintaining those certification standards, which lead to the digital transformation of their certification program. 

The History Behind ABEM's Transformative Journey

Most organizations' digital transformation journey begins with a pivotal realization—a realization that the traditional certification processes needed a significant overhaul. For ABEM, the impetus for change came directly from the physicians that are served, who candidly shared their challenges and aspirations for a more relevant and efficient certification experience.

Physician Feedback

ABEM actively sought feedback from physicians through focus groups, surveys, and meetings to gain valuable insights into their preferences. Through this process, they discovered that physicians wanted to get away from the lengthy 10-year exam format, which required them to visit a testing center and was only available during specific testing windows throughout the year.

Physicians wanted something more convenient that would meet their demanding schedules, to be taken when they have availability and without having to travel. But, they also told ABEM that they wanted any certification assessment developed to remain relevant and maintain the high standard for certification.

These interactions helped ABEM understand the strengths and weaknesses of their certification process and exams, ultimately leading to the creation of MyEMCert. This innovative program consists of module-based, smaller assessments that are seamlessly integrated into the BenchPrep platform, providing physicians with a more efficient and personalized certification experience.inline - ABEM platform Leaning Into Learning Tech

ABEM's Transformation to Learning Technology

As ABEM embarked on their search for the perfect technology partner, they had a distinct vision in mind. Let's take a closer look at the essential qualities they were seeking:

  1. A technology partner to support all learning aspects of the new program.
  2. Seamless integration with a physician portal, eliminating the need for physicians to sign into a separate platform for module access and result tracking.
  3. Maintain a source of truth with an item bank system as the primary source of test questions and edits.
  4. Optimized assessment features including time limits, forward-only navigation, resource access during the test, and comprehensive rationales for correct answers.

By integrating learning technology, the certification experience for physicians is taken to new heights, expanding accessibility, fostering engagement, and optimizing efficiency. This transformation empowers physicians to continuously learn, ensuring they remain at the forefront of medical knowledge.


ABEM addressed physicians' concerns and made necessary improvements to MyEMCert. They crafted relevant and manageable modules that fit physicians' busy schedules. The certification process was transformed into an open-book test, allowing physicians to use resources. Immediate feedback was provided to help physicians understand their mistakes and the exam covered both familiar and unfamiliar topics.

Benefits of MyEMCert

MyEMCert is unlike any other specialty's continuing certification program that allows physicians to learn during the process of staying certified. By offering a more efficient, accessible, and engaging certification experience, physicians are able to experience:inline - myEMCert benefits Leaning Into Learning Tech

Program Results

ABEM was able to successfully launch their Emergency Medicine modules and has been able to phase out the in-person, every 10-year exams. Based on feedback and insights from the first Emergency Medicine modules, they were able to move forward to include additional opportunities for physicians who hold subspecialty certifications. To this day, they continue to watch the data and trends to see how physicians engage with the platform, and where they can improve. 

The transformative power of MyEMCert extends beyond just the certification itself. It goes hand-in-hand with the entire certification process, bringing about significant changes such as eliminating administrative burdens, reducing paperwork, and simplifying the certification process.

ABEM's journey with BenchPrep didn't stop with the successful launch of MyEMCert. It marked the beginning of a dynamic partnership that continues to expand learning opportunities for physicians, enabling physicians to stay at the forefront of medical advancements. 

Value-added modules have been introduced, covering critical topics such as resuscitation, opioid use, and substance abuse disorders. These modules are not part of the required certification process but are offered as free, supplement resources to empower physicians in their ongoing pursuit of knowledge and expertise. 

Building Effective Learning Products

In building effective learning products, ABEM has honed a strategic approach that revolves around aligning products with the specific needs and preferences of medical professionals. This commitment to customization has been instrumental in shaping successful learning experiences for Emergency Medicine physicians. 

Key Elements to the Success of ABEM's Approach

  • ABEM's success lies in their ability to create tailored learning experiences that resonate with physicians by understanding their unique challenges.
  • Research guides ABEM's product development, leveraging insights to stay ahead of industry trends and meet learner expectations. User feedback helps refine offerings based on real-time input from physicians.
  • ABEM actively engages physicians and seeks a middle ground to ensure program integrity while accommodating diverse perspectives.
  • ABEM's proactive content creation approach includes continuous feedback to stay current, relevant, and impactful, ensuring their learning products remain dynamic and future-ready.

The key takeaways from ABEM's approach are invaluable for other organizations seeking to build effective learning products. ABEM's success in transforming their certification program should tell other organizations to think about these strategies and how they can embrace innovation.  

Want to gain more insights into certification program success? We talked to 5 Chief Learning Officers and VPs of Learning at the country's most innovative associations and certification providers to uncover their secrets for engaging learners, managing content, and boosting candidate confidence. Download Now