What is MOC?
Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is a program of continuous
professional development created by the ABS with the other member boards
of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). MOC goes beyond
traditional recertification at 10-year intervals to a ongoing process of
education, assessment and improvement. MOC gives diplomates greater
opportunity to assess the care they provide and formally demonstrate
their commitment to lifelong learning and practice improvement.
MOC is a program developed by surgeons for surgeons. The ABS is working
with specialty surgical organizations to ensure that MOC is relevant to
all practice areas. MOC is also intended to be a single standard for
documenting a surgeon's commitment to quality patient care. The ABS will
coordinate its requirements with those of other regulatory
organizations, such as state licensing boards, and is working with
national and regional health insurers to gain recognition for diplomates
participating in MOC.
How Does it Work?
ABS diplomates become enrolled in MOC once they certify or recertify in any ABS
specialty after July 1, 2005. Until this occurs, the traditional recertification
requirements for that specialty apply (see the respective recertification
examination for eligibility and application requirements). MOC requirements run
in three-year cycles. At the end of each cycle, diplomates report to the ABS
about their MOC activities. A secure examination is also required at 10-year
intervals. For diplomates who hold more than one certificate, only the secure
examination must be repeated for each specialty.
Board certification is considered to be the gold standard in assuring that a
surgeon has acquired and sustained a certain level of knowledge, skill and
performance. MOC will ensure that board certification remains a recognized,
surgeon-defined, standard of excellence. MOC will provide diplomates with
improved learning opportunities and a means by which to document the quality
care they provide, while giving patients greater assurance that a surgeon
certified by the ABS is providing safe, effective treatment.
MOC consists of four parts designed to assess physician competencies on a
Part 1 - Professional standing through maintenance of an unrestricted
medical license, hospital privileges and satisfactory references.
Part 2 - Lifelong learning and self-assessment through continuing
education and periodic self-assessment.
Part 3 - Cognitive expertise based on performance on a secure
Part 4 - Evaluation of performance in practice through tools such as
outcome measures and quality improvement programs, and the evaluation of
behaviors such as communication and professionalism.
Staying in Contact with the ABS
The ABS will keep diplomates informed about MOC through newsletters and e-mail
updates, and will contact diplomates individually when submission of information
is nearing due. Please keep your contact information with us current through
My Records (log in required).
1) How do I enroll in MOC?
Diplomates are automatically enrolled in MOC upon certification or
recertification in any specialty after July 1, 2005. Like
recertification, MOC is a voluntary process, required only if a
diplomate wishes to maintain ABS certification.
2) How does MOC differ from regular recertification?
Traditional recertification requires a diplomate to apply for recertification
toward the end of the 10-year certification cycle and then take and pass a
secure recertification examination. MOC goes beyond this requirement to include
continuing education and assessment activities throughout the 10-year cycle.
3) Why should I participate in MOC?
MOC gives ABS diplomates a program by which they can document their commitment
to ongoing learning, assessment and improvement. Participation in MOC
demonstrates that a diplomate is making a concerted effort to sustain and
improve the quality of care he or she delivers.
4) Once I am enrolled in MOC, how will I know when to submit something?
MOC requirements runs in three-year cycles (July 1-June 30), starting the July 1
following certification or recertification. Diplomates are required to report on
their MOC activities at the end of each cycle. Once you are enrolled in MOC, you
can view a personalized MOC Timeline to track your participation.
The ABS will contact you when you are in your third year of a three-year cycle
and ask you to complete an online form about your MOC activities by June 30.
Once you are contacted, you will be able to access the form on your MOC Timeline
page. In addition, a secure examination is required at 10-year intervals. Please
make sure to keep your contact information with us up to date.
5) What information is required for the online MOC form?
The online MOC form asks for information about your medical license, hospital
privileges, hospital references, CME activities from the past three years, and
what practice assessment program you are participating in. No operative or case
data is required, nor any paper documentation. Once you complete and submit the
online form, no further action is required unless you are contacted by the ABS.
Otherwise you will not hear from the ABS after you submit your form.
6) Do I need to submit evidence of participation in a practice assessment
program for Part 4?
The online MOC form that you will complete every three years contains a section
for you to indicate or describe what activity you are doing to fulfill the Part
4 requirement. You are not required to submit operative or case data, nor any
paper documentation. Please note, however, that a 12-month operative log is
required for admission to the secure examination (Part 3).
7) I recertified in the fall of 2006. What do I need to do?
If you recertified in the fall of 2006, MOC went into effect for you as of July
1, 2007. MOC years run from July 1 to June 30, so you are now entering your
third year of MOC. The ABS will contact you in January 2010 and ask you to
complete an online form by June 30, 2010 about your MOC activities.
8) My certificate expires in 2012. What do I need to do?
Diplomates are automatically enrolled in MOC upon certification or
recertification after July 1, 2005. Until then, traditional recertification
requirements apply. You will be eligible to recertify three years before your
certificate lapses - in your case, as of spring 2011. You will begin MOC the
July 1 following your passing of the examination. Diplomates, however, are
welcome to begin MOC early; starting MOC earlier than required will not change
your certificate's expiration status.
9) I recently certified and am currently in a fellowship. Does MOC apply
Your fellowship training fulfills Parts 2 and 4 of MOC and you are exempt from
these requirements for the three-year cycle in which you complete the
fellowship. However, you must still report to the ABS at three-year intervals by
completing the online MOC form. There is a section on the form for you to
describe your fellowship training. The fellowship must be approved by the ACGME
or a recognized surgical society.
10) Are there fees to participate in MOC?
The ABS does not currently plan to institute fees for MOC, other than the
application and examination fees already required for the secure recertification
11) If I don't participate in MOC, what will happen?
Diplomates who do not meet MOC requirements after three years in MOC will be
given a one-year grace period in which to come into compliance. Diplomates who
continue not to participate will have their status reported as "Not
Participating in MOC." They also will not be eligible to take the secure
recertification examination until all MOC requirements are satisfied.
12) What if I am certified in more than one specialty?
The ABS allows lifelong learning/self-assessment and evaluation of performance
in practice (Parts 2 and 4) performed for one certificate (ABS or another ABMS
board) to be credited toward any other certificates a diplomate might hold. You
must still report to the ABS at three-year intervals according to the timeline
of the certification or recertification which initiated your enrollment in the
ABS MOC Program. The reporting does not have to be repeated for other ABS
certificates. The secure examination requirement (Part 3), however, must be
fulfilled for all specialties in which you are certified.