For physicians certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), some new rules governing the recertification process will soon go into effect. The ABIM recently announced that beginning in January 2014, all physicians certified during or after 1990 (time-limited certificates) will be required to complete 100 maintenance of certification (MOC) points every five years, as opposed to the previous ten-year timeline. Additionally, doctors will have to earn some of their activity points at least once every two years. Physicians will still only be required to sit for the secure exam every ten years. According to Janell Martin, certification specialist at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), the ABIM hopes to create a sense of a “continuous maintenance-of-certification process.”
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“There’s a lot happening in the field of medicine all the time,” Martin said in an interview. “So their goal is to try to get people involved in maintenance of certification activities throughout the cycle.”
For physicians certified prior to 1990—known as “grandfathers”—recertification is still not required, as they possess time-indefinite certificates. However, the ABIM plans to publicly list on their website all certified physicians, with time-limited or time-indefinite certificates, as either “meeting MOC requirements” or “not meeting MOC requirements,” regardless of their status.
Carol Langford, MD, MHS, chair of the ACR’s Continuous Professional Development Subcommittee, says that, “the new requirements that are going to be in place reflect the concept that the goal is for there to be truly ongoing professional development; … along the physician’s career, they are continually undergoing steps to maintain their medical knowledge.”
She notes that, “the ACR has tools already in place [for physicians] to receive maintenance of certification credit, and we are in the process of developing even more educational opportunities that will allow physicians to earn their maintenance of certification points.”
Above all, though, the message that the ACR hopes to get across is that there are numerous ways for physicians to earn MOC points in the areas of Medical Knowledge and Practice Improvement throughout each year of their ten-year cycle. And as always, the ACR is available for guidance.
Michael O’Neal is a writer based in New Jersey.