In mid-December of last year, I was notified that I am one of the first pediatricians who are no longer “BE/BC” as I did not pass my Board exam – again – and my time-limit is up. I graduated from residency, where I was co-chief in my third year, 10 years ago. Since that time, I have worked as a pediatric hospitalist for a single health system in a near-tertiary care center, also serving as director of pediatric hospital medicine and vice-chair of pediatrics. This has been a career I intended on retiring from, especially since I am well-established in the community, have four young children in the school system, and I am required to stay put due to shared custody agreements my husband and I have with our previous spouses.
I am now in a position, which I imagine hundreds of other pediatricians are also finding themselves in, where I am facing not only losing my job in the next few months, but my entire career in clinical medicine. Most clinical positions have the “BE/BC” qualifier and while for years and years previous, pediatricians could retain this status their whole career without ever passing the board, now we cannot. In order to become eligible again, the Board requires an additional year of training in an accredited pediatric residency program. But…therein lies a huge rub. While I am fortunate to live in a location where a number of residencies are within somewhat of a reasonable driving distance from my home, (1.5 – 2.5 hours,) I am coming to the realization that I may very well never find a program to accept me. And, why would they? There are almost no guidelines from the Board regarding how someone like me would integrate back into a residency program, nor how a program director would go about working with me to build a 12-month curriculum just for my circumstance. Questions about billing, supervision, compensation, malpractice/insurance coverage…all of it is a big unknown. Right now I see no benefit for a program to take on this responsibility but if I don’t get this accomplished, my anticipated lifetime career, which I dreamed of accomplishing since I was a child, is over. Lasting less time than it took for me to complete my education to get here, and leaving me with thousands and thousands of dollars in bills for student loans still waiting to be paid off. Much less a mortgage, etc.
I am looking for any insight at all from anyone about this. This is the huge elephant in the room and understandably, no one wants to talk about it. It is a shameful thing, not being able to pass the board exam. While I am confident that I am a good physician, with dozens of fellow pediatricians on-staff who support me, not to mention my entire nursing staff which ranges in emotion from crying to swearing as I have slowly broken the news to them, in the end, my fate is in the hands of the board of directors of the hospital and our hospital by-laws. And, it’s been explained to me by administration of the hospital that receiving a waiver of some kind regarding my lack of BE status is impossible. Who else out there is dealing with this? What recommendations do you have? And, I suppose, as depressing as this last question is…does anyone have any ideas as to what I might do with this M.D. other than clinical medicine if it comes to that? A thought which makes me physically ill, but one I unfortunately don’t think I can avoid, at this point. Thank you for any insight (and prayers) you may have.