MOC Exam: Take It or Not?

Shelly Reese


August 03, 2016

In This Article

Trying to Figure Out How to Handle MOC? Good Luck

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements have become a rallying cry for physicians who complain that the programs operated by the American Board of Medical Specialties' (ABMS) member boards are expensive, onerous, and often irrelevant to their practice of medicine.

The uproar has resulted in a slew of recent activity, including:

  • Formation of an alternative certifying body by physician dissidents;

  • Enactment of legislation in four states limiting the use of MOC as a physician credential; and

  • Announcement by some of the 24 professional boards operating under the ABMS umbrella that they will change the way they recertify doctors.

In January, the American Board of Anesthesiology replaced the 10-year exam with an online, continuous assessment tool. Likewise, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is piloting a program that would enable diplomates in the final year of their MOC cycle to be exempted from a written exam by instead participating in an ongoing assessment.

Perhaps most notable, on May 5 the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), which has drawn heavy fire from critics, announced that it would begin offering a new MOC option in January 2018 that would enable physicians to test out of the current 10-year exam by participating in shorter, more frequent assessments.

But while change is underway, what should you do if you're facing the near-term prospect of a MOC exam?

A Test That Riled Physicians

Critics deride the recertification exams as costly, time consuming, and irrelevant busywork. Many complain that the requirements are arbitrary—physicians certified prior to 1990 are not required to participate in MOC—and therefore unfair. Many complain that because hospitals frequently require MOC as a condition for privileges, and insurers demand it as a condition for network inclusion and reimbursement, the "voluntary" program is actually a prerequisite for doing business.

So, although physicians may rail against MOC, they feel stuck.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.