Dr. Edithe J. Levit

Dr. Edithe J. Levit became the first woman president and CEO of a national medical association when she took over the leadership of the National Board of Medical Examiners. The Board was founded in 1915 to create national standards for medical licensing and education. Dr. Levit was responsible for making sure that the board kept up with changing times and the most useful innovations that could help measure students’ abilities. She was hired in the 1960s as one of the board’s first full-time medical professionals. Over the decades, she instituted creative innovations that have revolutionized the way medical students are evaluated. Among her many innovations were PMPs... or “Patient Management Problems.” They were designed to test how well medical students make decisions while examining and taking the history of a patient. PMPs became a highly effective way to test all students on the same skills, and hold them to the same standards. Dr. Levit later introduced computer-based testing, audiovisual tools such as films of meetings with patients, and the first self-assessment test of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Levit was successful in ushering in such sweeping changes by consistently proving their efficacy, and eloquently justifying a new approach. Within the first ten years, she rose through the ranks and in 1977, became President and CEO of the National Board of Medical Examiners. In 1986, Dr. Levit received the first ever Honorary Resolution from the American Medical Association’s Resident Physician Section for her commitment to the highest standards in medical education. She also was honored with a Special Recognition Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. As Dr. Levit recalls, “I spent the last 25 years of my career with the National Board of Medical Examiners... those years were the most stimulating, creative, and rewarding time of my professional life.”