AP/CP Boards - what happens if you fail?

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by DoubleL, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. DoubleL

    DoubleL Member
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    Okay, I'm just a lowly second-year medical student, trying to figure what I really want to do with my life, and I've become quite interested in pathology lately. I'm posting this in the pathology forum, but I guess it applies to most specialties with board exams.

    I did a search, but couldn't find an answer to my question: what happens if you spend four (or five) years in residency, only to fail your board certification exams? Isn't it a significant number who don't pass?

    And then - why didn't they pass? Was their program poor? Were they slackers? Or is are board certification exams just that difficult?

    Seems crazy to go $150,000 in debt and lose 8 years of your life, only to end up with nothing...

    So what's the deal?

    Thanks!

    LL
     
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  2. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    I believe they just take them again. Not sure what they do for the year. Perhaps they try to find a fellowship. Good question though...I haven't met anyone yet who has failed AP/CP boards. Met people who failed hemepath boards so they work regular surg path until they can take it again.
     
  3. LADoc00

    LADoc00 Gen X, the last great generation
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    You can take em over and over for like 3-4 years I think. No biggie. If fail all those retries, then either you become a homeless person or a sex worker (both stated in ABP guidelines under "What happens when you really really suck" section 12, paragraph 5, I believe)
     
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  4. OP
    OP
    DoubleL

    DoubleL Member
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    Excellent, thanks everyone. So one way or another, you push your way through the exams (selling your body along the way if you have to). :)

    As a followup to that... Is it important when visiting/interviewing at programs to find out their board pass rates? Or are most programs good enough that you shouldn't have any problem passing the boards?

    Thanks again!

    LL
     
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  5. pathdawg

    pathdawg Senior Member
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    The fail rate for the AP/CP is on the order of 30% (very high for a certifying exam, btw. Most are on the order of 10% or so). If you fail one or both parts, you just take it again. You have an eligibilty window of 5 years (from the date of the board declaring you eligible). You can work as an attending as long as you are board eligible. If someone still cannot pass and their eligibilty expires, then they can apply for an extension of their board eligibilty (based on practice experience). I believe everyone pretty much passes eventually.

    The same applies for subspecialty exams. Someone (I think Yaah) said that if someone fails the hemepath exam, they can still work as a surgical pathologist. Not true. They can indeed function as a hematopathologist, as long as they are board eligible.

    I don't buy into the whole "if you fail you must be a huge *******" thing. The AP/CP exam is very tough. Anyone can fail it. (I know some very smart people from prestigous programs who have failed at least one part.) It is not the end of the world.
     
  6. stormjen

    stormjen Path PGY
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    I asked about board pass rates for the CP portion of the exam, since many residency programs are notoriously weak in it. You can indirectly gauge a program's CP strength by the proportion of residents who fail the CP boards. The good programs are the ones that say "all our residents pass CP on the first try". Unless they're lying of course.
     
  7. pathdawg

    pathdawg Senior Member
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    ...and they almost all lie.
     
  8. yaah

    yaah Boring
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    This is interesting...some would say why bother taking the boards then. I guess if you are planning on a career longer than 5 years you would have to take the boards at some point though!
     
  9. pathdawg

    pathdawg Senior Member
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    You have to eventually pass because otherwise, you won't be credentialed by insurance companies. If they don't credential you, you won't get paid. The only way someone can function now (in any specialty) without being board certified is to have a cash only practice (wouldn't that be nice).
     

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