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Korean doctor sets world record with 10 medical boardsShin Hyun-joon, specialist in preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • By Lee Min-ju
  • Published 2018.01.04 10:34
  • Updated 2018.01.04 10:34
  • comments 0

A Korean physician recently set the world’s record by obtaining the most medical board certifications, according to the World Record Academy. It goes to Dr. Shin Jyun-hoon, a specialist in preventive cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the U.S.

Shin is also a clinician in health care system at Harvard Medical School and VA Boston.

After graduating Yonsei University College of Medicine in 1997, Shin interned at Severance Hospital and worked as a resident at the hospital’s internal medicine division. He became a specialist in internal medicine at Framingham Hospital in 2009 and obtained Ph.D. in nutrition epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in 2014.

His studies focus on relations between dietary habits and cardiovascular disorders. In 2014, his journal on relations between instant noodles, metabolic syndrome and dietary habits for women was introduced to the world on local and foreign media outlets.

Shin has 10 certified boards, including two in internal medicine and cardiology obtained in Korea. Despite setting the world’s record, he does not stop challenging. He aims to get three more boards. Korea Biomedical Review met Shin to learn how he had come to get 10 board certifications and what he plans to do next.

Shin Hyun-joon says obtaining medical board certifications helped him learn new knowledge, in an interview with Korea Biomedical Review.

Question: What are the 10 board certifications that you earned?

Answer: I’ve won two in Korea and eight in the U.S. The Korean boards certify my specialty in internal medicine and cardiology. To get them, I worked as an internal medicine resident and specialist training in cardiology. The first board in the U.S. was specialist in internal medicine after two and a half years of training. After that, I went through three years of training in cardiology and obtained a board in cardiovascular disease in 2015.

The other boards are certifications in preventive cardiology or cardiology, which require the U.S. state medical license. In 2015, I acquired a board of echocardiography, issued by the National Board of Echocardiography, and another in nuclear cardiology. In 2016, I got a board of hypertension issued by the American Society of Hypertension. In 2017, I obtained boards in obesity medicine, clinical lipidology, and lifestyle medicine. To get them, you have to earn 40-60 credits of continuing medical education (CME) and specialty in patient care, besides owning an individual board certification.

Q: Is there a difference between a board obtained in Korea and that in the U.S.?

A: The boards of internal medicine and cardiology, obtained in the U.S., are similar to those in Korea. But other boards I received in the U.S. are similar to certificates given to Korean physicians.

The board certifications for internal medicine and cardiology are official certifications given by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), one of the American Board of Medical Specialty (ABMS) that manages certifications of medical specialists.

In the U.S., other board certification institutions besides ABMS and academic societies manage and provide board certifications. Each institution makes criteria for obtaining a board and gives an opportunity for a test to those who fulfill particular educational requirements. For example, to get a board in echocardiography, you not only have to pass the exam but meet the criteria such as examining more than 300 thoracic ultrasound readings and conducting thoracic ultrasounds more than 150 times.

Q: What made you obtain so many boards?

A: They were opportunities to acquire new knowledge. The boards that I have obtained so far are related to my specialty courses in preventive cardiology or cardiology. Whenever I prepared for each exam, I got to study important knowledge that is helpful to provide better patient care. Those thoughts have led me to obtain 10 boards so far.

When I study, I often find myself realizing that I can use this information for patient treatment. After acquiring a board in lifestyle, I was able to apply the theory of behavioral treatments to obesity treatments. Acquiring a variety of boards makes it possible to provide inclusive and professional treatments for patients. It depends on what kind of board a physician has, but in the U.S., people prefer physicians with boards in echocardiography and nuclear medicine and give more recognition.

Q: Do you plan to obtain more boards?

A: I want to get three more boards – certification board of cardiac computed tomography, registered physician in vascular interpretation, and physician nutrition specialist board. As I regard getting boards as a way to learn more knowledge about patient treatments, I want to get boards that are helpful for my research and clinical trials.

Q: You said your boards were in preventive cardiology and cardiology. Can you tell us in detail what kind of study you’re doing?

In 2013, Shin received the first place in the fellows’ poster competition at the American College of Cardiology, Texas Chapter (TCACC) meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

A: Now, I’m studying how dietary habits change mortality rates of diabetes patients and incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke. A part of the study results was published by the American College of Cardiology, which helped me become a candidate for the ACC’s Young Investigator Awards in 2013.

I’m interested in discovering the incidence routes of a disease and using them to prevent a disease. In the future, I want to use statistics and methodology to study how dietary habits and nutrients affect cardiovascular diseases. Preventing cardiovascular diseases by managing habits in eating, drinking and obesity, and prolonging a lifespan of cardiovascular disease patients by managing risk factors are a significant topic in epidemiology, which is my study theme, as well as my specialty. It is as important as treating a disease.

Q: What made you so interested in disease prevention and epidemiology?

A: When the world was hit by SARS in 2003, I worked as an epidemiological investigator at now-defunct National Institute of Health (currently Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). That was when I got to be interested in epidemiology.

During the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, doctors all around the world risked their lives to treat patients. I got to know the value of epidemiology watching investigators discover epidemiological facts such as the incubation period of the virus and transmission routes. This made me study epidemiology at Harvard.

In the early stages of the SARS outbreak, medical staffs around the world did not have much knowledge about the epidemic. Korea was no exception. The country had a poor response manual to deal with the SARS. At that time, I revised the response manual with co-working epidemiological investigators and pushed to encourage people to wear N95 masks. As a result, I received awards from the prime minister, the head of the National Institute of Health, and Seoul mayor.

Q: What kind of doctor do you want to become?

A: The most important virtue of a doctor is to treat patients well. I will keep that in mind, listen to patients’ concerns, and try to offer the most appropriate treatment to the patients with the most advanced knowledge.


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