ABMS’ Statement on Maintenance of Certification

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) met in December 2017 with representatives of its 24 member Boards to open what is hoped will be an on-going dialogue on maintenance of certification (MOC) and how to ensure that every participating physician will find value in the process. Concerns discussed included the complexity, convenience, relevance to practice and the indirect cost of participating in the MOC programs.

As a result of the meeting, ABMS leadership issued a statement outlining what they are doing to address concerns and identify and implement best practices across the specialties. Here are some of the actions ABMS is taking:

  • All the Boards are implementing changes to make their programs more convenient, supportive, relevant and cost-effective. Each has taken its own approach, based on its study of the validity and psychometric rigor of the assessment options, as well as preferences expressed by their diplomates.
  • To make testing more relevant to practice, Boards have modularized the exam in specific practice areas and given their diplomates more flexibility over the scope and frequency of assessment;
  • To eliminate the indirect costs of participation, Boards have modernized the assessment through convenient on-line testing or remote proctoring, eliminating the need for preparation courses, travel to exam centers, and time away from practices;
  • To simulate real-life application of knowledge and decision making, some Boards now permit the use of reference materials during the exam;
  • To assure that knowledge assessments help participating physicians to identify gaps in knowledge and guide their learning, assessments are accompanied by timely, actionable feedback;
  • To increase alignment between MOC and other quality and safety programs, a much wider variety of practice-based learning and improvement activities are now recognized, including those offered through hospitals, specialty societies, and state medical societies.
  • To assure opportunities for remediation of knowledge gaps, all Boards provide multiple opportunities for physicians to retake the exam.

Read the entire statement.


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1 Comment

  • Kerry A Willis MD

    Good start to the revision process but still lacking proof of concept that MOC will differentiate physicians at any level or that the process will improve anything except improve the financial status of the specialty boards.

    In the era of evidence based medicine should the ABMS be allowed to advance a method without evidence of its efficacy in achieving a goal? no studies, no facts, no data just their opinions. As I recall, if grading the evidence the recommendations were made on, MOC would receive a “Da” no evidence or studies to support the recommendation

    We demand better of new advances in medicine. Shouldn’t we demand better of the Boards?