A scandal is brewing over doctors helping other docs cheat on their board certification tests. A recent report by CNN claims that doctors studying to be dermatologists have a long-standing tradition of sharing exam questions with those taking the test after them. These so-called “airplane notes” consist of doctors memorizing the test questions and then writing them down immediately after the test to share with others.
Passing the test is the last step before certification by the board.
In response to the report, the American Board of Medical Specialties, which oversees certification for 24 different fields of medicine, issued a statement decrying the practice and reaffirming that when cheaters come to its attention, the organization takes action to bar cheaters from receiving certification — and sometimes seeks legal recourse as well.
Some board-certified docs told CNN that the cheating was very organized — doctors would have official meetings to share notes, the questions would be added to a registry with questions from previous years’ tests and at times the information was even professionally bound before distribution. Several other doctors said that while they had not seen such notes themselves, they had heard enough about them to believe they’re widespread.