Changes Coming to MOC: Will Physicians Get Relief?

Leigh Page


June 05, 2018

In This Article

Cutting the Cost: Freezing or Reducing Fees

One very common concern about the MOC process is that it just costs too much—both in direct fees and indirect costs, such as taking courses to prepare for the exam and taking time off to go to a remote site to take the exam.

Commenting on a 2017 Medscape article, an Illinois psychiatrist said that she was paying $1600 in fees to the ABPN for the 10-year exam and then at least another $10,000 to $15,000 for membership dues and conferences to earn points for CME, PIPs, and other requirements.[45]

"I had to pay an exorbitant amount of money just to pass the test," Callas says about the anesthesiology MOC. Like many boards, the ABA has converted the 10-year payment for the MOC process ($2600 for the ABA) to a yearly payment ($260 for the ABA), but Callas thinks that the ABA should have provided a discount. He thinks it is saving money by giving the online MOCA Minute rather than the on-site exam in many cases.

"Many doctors have been saying that the MOC is a money-making scheme, and by all appearances, it still is," he says.

However, many boards have reported that they have frozen or reduced fees:

  • ABOS: ABOS Application and Examination fees have been stable for 8 years, and the MOC fee has been eliminated.[46]

  • ABP: As of 2017, there has been no increase in MOC fees since 2015 or in initial certification fees since 2014.[33]

  • ABOp: As of 2017, Part IV fees have not increased since 2012.[33]

  • American Board of Otolaryngology: As of 2017, MOC fees have not increased since 2012.[33]

  • ABPS: In 2018, exam fees will be cut by 15%, following a decision to put the exam online.[47]

  • ABPN: Exam fees were reduced by 34% from 2007 to 2016.[48]

Expanding CME Opportunities

Sibert believes in using CME credits, but not the way it is done in MOC Part II. "The MOC requirements are an arbitrary smorgasbord," she says. "I read constantly, but I choose what I read. The content has to be applicable to my needs."

Many boards, however, have been allowing more kinds of CME activities and making it easier to report them. For example, the ABIM reports that a collaboration with the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), begun in 2015, allows physicians to use a wide variety of ACCME-approved activities that apparently weren't allowed before.

In 2017, the ABIM and ACCME announced that their collaboration had "resulted in over 3.3 million MOC points earned by more than 68,000 physicians for accredited CME activities they are already doing to stay current and improve the care they provide."[49]

The ACCME has made similar arrangements with the pathology, anesthesiology, and pediatrics boards, according to Morris at the ABMS.

It's also easier for physicians in these four specialties to report CME credits. The ACCME's web-based tool, the CME Finder, helps doctors search for CME opportunities and receive credit for the CME.

In addition, other boards are making arrangements with their respective specialty societies to provide more CME choices for physicians.

Boards Try to Become More User-Friendly

The boards of anesthesiology, radiology, pediatrics, pathology and surgery have set up portals to help physicians navigate their board activities, according to the ABMS's Morris.

The ABA reports that a new section in its portal shows physicians' progress and performance in a color-coded dashboard. "Green indicates that you're on track; red indicates that you need to catch up," the ABA says.[50]

Some boards have also been beefing up customer support. The surgery board has assigned each physician to a "certification specialist" who is their permanent contact inside the board, the ABMS reports.[33]

The radiology board's Connections Center is "staffed by a team of employees dedicated to excellent customer service in a timely manner," the ABR reports. "The Connections team works with ABR subject matter experts to provide the best answer to your question within 2 business days."[51]


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.