As a physician, Maintenance of Certification (MOC) must be kept current alongside continuing medical education (CME). It is considered a demonstration that the physician is continually participating in various activities to learn and educate him or herself about patient care and other medical practice issues like safety and quality. Although there is a great deal of debate (sometimes heated) about the boards that administer MOC, its relevance to modern practice and its cost, today they remain mandatory in order to maintain licensure.
MOC requirements vary by specialty, as do the activities that qualify for MOC. It is important that you check with your specialty examining board to see the specific MOC requirements you are required to fulfill to maintain your license.
Work is underway to streamline the process of logging MOC and CME credits. In 2015 the ACCME and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) collaborated to integrate their MOC and CME requirements. It resulted in a single system for submitting CME and MOC points to both organizations.
More recently, in September 2017, ABIM announced that they were collaborating with the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American College of Physicians (ACP) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) “…to explore the development of collaborative pathways through which physicians can maintain board certification. This collaborative work is in its early stages, and each organization has committed to looking at the creation of a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process in their specialty that offers board certified physicians flexibility in how they can demonstrate to their peers and the public that they meet standards and are keeping their medical knowledge current.”
Although different specialties have different MOC requirements, some of the methods by which you earn MOC are shared by all. Here are some of the ways in which you can earn MOC.
Some CME courses earn Maintenance of Certification (MOC) points/credits. In general, CME that qualifies for MOC points or credits are the ones that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). The CME provider will collect and submit your completion information so that ABIM may award your ABIM MOC points.
For example, we offer Online Self-Assessment Courses for a variety of specialties. In our Cardiology Course, you can earn up to 65 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and 65 American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) points simultaneously. Use up your CME stipend with the CME Gift Card Bundle and you’ll have the choice of a $1,000 Apple or Amazon gift card.
There are also many free online CME options that will help you meet your MOC requirements quickly and conveniently.
If you have taken CME in the past six months, you can check to see if it is eligible for MOC credit. Contact the CME provider and ask if it is eligible for MOC. You can also check with your board. For example, the American Board of Internal Medicine has a MOC activity finder where you can search activities for eligibility.
Both learning and quality improvement activities may earn MOC points. ACCME says that these types of activities include:
- Enduring materials
- Live and online courses
- Regularly scheduled series (e.g., grand rounds, tumor boards)
- Performance improvement
- Journal-based CME
- Internet searching and learning
- Test-item writing
- Committee learning
- Manuscript review
- Learning from teaching
This category includes courses and activities that test current and established knowledge in your specialty. It can include CME, activities that examine your knowledge in specific clinical areas, attending learning sessions or participating in the ABIM Care of the Underserved activity.
Expanding areas of study
As you select CME, classes, and activities that qualify for MOC, consider expanding the topics you study. This will give you exposure to topics that may be covered on the MOC exam and may update the information you have for everyday practice.
- As you study Cardiology MOC you might also want to consider courses and activities in Interventional Cardiology, Pediatric Cardiology, and Echocardiography.
- As you study Family Medicine MOC, you might consider participating in courses and activities in Emergency Medicine, OBGYN, Sports Medicine.
- As you study Psychiatry MOC, it might make sense to expand into Neurology and Child Psychiatry MOC.
- Surgery MOC can include OBGYN MOC.
How does MOC vary by specialty?
As mentioned earlier, each specialty has widely varying MOC requirements. Here is a sample of how they can differ.
Pediatrics: According to information published by NEJM Knowledge+, a division of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is considering going to an open book exam for MOC. ABP offers a weekly question on the web that can be answered for MOC. NEJM quotes ABP saying, “You will be able to rank and comment on the submissions—or offer suggestions of your own. Not only will this dialogue help you to know what literature pediatric experts consider to be important but it will also allow us to link life-long learning (MOC Part 2) with knowledge assessment (MOC Part 3) more effectively.”
Anesthesiology: In 2014 the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) launched the MOCA Minute. It’s an interactive learning and assessment tool that allows physicians to earn MOC by completing multiple-choice questions that are delivered by email, mobile app, and/or the board’s website. According to NEJM, ABA has replaced their MOC exam (MOCA Part 3) with the MOCA Minute for diplomates whose certificate expires in 2017. Diplomates need to answer 30 questions per calendar quarter (120 per year).
Family Medicine: The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is trying to simplify MOC for its members. The ABFM has a study underway called TRADEMaRQ (Trial of Aggregate Data Exchange for Maintenance of Certification and Raising Quality). It is testing a new method for physicians that allows them to automatically record data from all of their patients for the quality-improvement portion of MOC.
There are too many specialties for us to list them all here. However, these examples show you the wide variation in requirements. Check your board in order to remain current with options and changes for earning your MOC.
Want to learn more about CME and MOC requirements? Download our Free eBook, Navigating Continuing Medical Education: A Guide to CME/MOC Requirements.