More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Nothing endures but change.” The ABIM Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program began in the 1990s and transitioned to include practice-improvement activities in 2006. Certificates obtained prior to 1990 have been termed “time unlimited,” meaning that MOC has been optional for some. In the March 2012 issue of The Rheumatologist, James O’Dell, MD, the immediate past president of the ACR, introduced us to the multidimensional meaning of grandfather. We met his grandchildren, Georgie and Aiden, and we learned about his experience as a rheumatologist with an American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) certification obtained prior to 1990—a so-called grandfather in terms of his certification status. He tried to demystify the MOC process, while highlighting the ACR’s portfolio of educational programs and products that help our members through the process. Developed to meet the unique educational needs of the rheumatologist, our self-assessment tools, practice-improvement programs, and in-person review courses have received accolades from participants, the ABIM, and our colleagues in other subspecialty societies. I have just been through the MOC process for the second time—at once cursed and blessed to be young enough to have a time-limited certificate issued in the early 1990s!—and have treasured the CARE modules, MOC Review Course, and AIM program that have helped to keep me current.
The ACR has been strongly committed to providing educational as well as informational support for our journeys as lifelong learners. The ABIM has been working with the American Board of Medical Specialties, its parent organization, to respond to increasing pressure for public accountability and transparency, while working to streamline seemingly endless requirements for reporting and credentialing of one sort or another. There is synchrony in the desire to utilize our lifelong learning activities to improve patient care. There is a hope that some changes in the MOC program may facilitate the end of redundancies in reporting and credentialing for local and federal governmental agencies, insurers, and our own hospitals and health systems—to let us get back to our patients!
In January 2014, the ABIM will begin reporting whether or not physicians are “Meeting MOC Requirements” in place of awarding the current 10-year, time-limited certificates. The ABIM website will read, “Certified—Meeting MOC Requirements” instead of listing a certification year range.
At the program launch, everyone holding a current certificate and valid license will be “Meeting MOC Requirements.” Physicians will remain board certified until their current certification expires, regardless of participation in the new MOC program. This language will appear both in the ABIM profile and on the public website where patients can search to see a physician’s certification history.