If We can Lose the Bar Exam, We Can Lose the MOC

So the Iowa Supreme Court is considering a proposal from the state bar association to let new law school graduates start working before taking the bar exam. The story was carried by an Iowa newspaper:

How good is the bar exam in protecting Iowa citizens from incompetent lawyers? Not good at all since about 93% of examinees pass it on the first try. What do some Iowa attorneys think of the bar exam? They call it “outdated,” that it “…measures nothing at all about what it takes to become a lawyer,” that it “…doesn’t tell us anything…” about whether lawyers are “…good, ethical professional people who know what they’re doing…”

The new proposal is called an “in-state diploma privilege” and would allow students who learn Iowa-specific law to work immediately after law school graduation without taking the bar exam. They would be required to take an ethics exam and undergo a background check.

Those who object to the proposal do so by calling the bar exam “a rite of passage.”

The proposal also would favor students who elect to stay in Iowa, which would counter the shortage of attorneys in rural areas.

Why is a geezer psychiatrist talking about law school graduates and bar exams?

I think there is a parallel between this issue and the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) in Iowa. I think MOL would hurt recruitment and retention of physicians in Iowa because many thousands of doctors are opposed to this and MOC. Instatement of MOL would tie obtaining state medical licensure to participating in MOC, essentially. If you need a primer on MOC and MOL, please see and sign my petition opposing MOL in Iowa. And if you need more evidence of the widespread opposition to these processes, see and sign the petition opposing the ABIM MOC.

Neither MOC nor MOL tell us anything really about how ethical and competent physicians are. There is no high-level research supporting the utility of these processes for improving patient care outcomes or the physician-patient relationship.

If we defeat MOL implementation in Iowa, we might be able to avoid worsening the physician shortage. If Iowa attorneys are opposed to an empty bar exam which would tend to worsen the shortage of lawyers in the state, why should’t the Iowa Board of Medicine immediately cease and desist participating in the empty and duplicative MOL implementation pilot projects, which many doctors believe will worsen the physician shortage?

If we can lose the bar exam, we can lose the MOC. How about we treat doctors as nice as we treat lawyers?



  1. I think MOL/MOC is more analogous to lawyers needing to retake the bar every ten years. I bet they’d love that. So you’re right. If lawyers don’t even need to take the bar exam once, why should doctors need to recertify every 10 years?

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