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A Barbecued Chicken Wing: What Wisdom About Maintenance of Certification?


Maintenance of certification


I had never made a connection between a barbecued chicken wing and maintenance of certification (MOC) until my swim in the bay last week. Here’s my story.

Most days I swim in the Gulf, but last Sunday it was too choppy for my comfort, so I rode my bike to the bay side for my swim. I parked my bike next to the picnic shelter and noticed a family speaking what sounded like a Polynesian language. They were shucking corn and tending to the grill. What a nice family, I thought, as I wondered about their origins and headed for the buoy about 100 yards out.

Half an hour later, I was drying off and watching the family grill their barbecued chicken. They seemed so happy and content, sharing laughter and food, each pitching in to help the other and giving freely of their hearts and fruits of their labors. I felt a longing to be part of their joy.

Just then, the matriarch of the clan approached me. She was carrying a barbecued chicken wing in a pair of tongs.

“Here, try this,” she offered, as the aroma of the savory spices wafted closer.

“Oh, thank you so much.”

I took the slightly slippery wing and bit into it. Delicious.

My delight was about more than a tasty wing.

“Are you alone?”

“My husband is at home,” I answered, as I marveled at her pure, open-handed kindness.

A smile graced my face as I enjoyed the wing and rinsed my sticky fingers in the bay. I thanked her again and waved goodbye before heading home on my bike.

I thought how wonderful the world might be if we all approached others with the same genuine kindness shown to me on the beach through the gift of a chicken wing and a concern for my being alone. I did not have to prove my worthiness or ask for recognition.

The connection to MOC?  It was on my ride home I realized what I would change about MOC. Given the opportunity, I would be more open, with concern for my colleagues, their time and their resources, their well being. I would recognize their honest commitment to patient care and their ambitious pursuit of learning. I would not force an examination with the threat of failure and revocation of certification, and I would welcome free exchange of ideas.

After all, given a choice between choosing a doctor with the highest score on the MOC exam and one who would share her chicken wing with me, I'd go for the wing every time.

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