Larry Faulkner: Million Dollar Shrink

According to the 2014 IRS Form 990 the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) paid psychiatrist Larry Faulkner, MD a total of $903,960 at a time when primary care practices can barely afford to stay open, and psychiatric patients must often wait months to get an appointment.

Kudos to Dr. Faulkner for negotiating a rockstar salary, but what does this tell us about values in medicine today? In theory ABPN certifies that physicians who have completed years of residency or fellowship training know their stuff. (ABPN certified me for “added qualification in addiction psychiatry and forensic psychiatry without completing a fellowship in either.) But member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties have morphed into cash cows for jobs like Faulkner’s that involve no patient care whatsoever.

Nowadays physicians (you know, the people who still take care of sick people) must not only spend time and money for continuing education, but they must undergo costly reexamination every 10 years for maintenance of certification (MOC), and some state licensing boards want to impose similar burdens for maintenance of licensure (MOL).

Many physicians, however, refuse to support these rackets. Some have obtained certification from the arguably less profit-driven National Board of Physicians and Surgeons (NBPAS). You can also push back by simply refusing to pursue certification or at least MOC. Never contract with a payer or work for an employer that requires MOC. If your professional organization supports MOC, resign.

I hope more physicians will focus on clinical work, stop feeding this time- and money-sucking monster and stop making Dr. Faulkner and his ilk wealthy by participation in yet another medical racket. I call on Dr. Faulkner to (if he is capable) pursue a career in clinical medicine. He should have saved enough money that he can provide free care to the indigent.

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