MOC Requirements

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As the field of dermatology changes—with medical information and treatment options advancing—the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program helps to ensure that board-certified dermatologists are apprised of the latest developments and serves as a mechanism to attest to your efforts.

For the public, our goal is to ensure high standards of practice of ABD diplomates, and assure that certified dermatologists have maintained their cognitive skills and kept up-to-date with new developments in the field.

For all practicing dermatologists, our goal is to provide valuable experiences for learning and practice improvement, by developing instruments for completing MOC requirements that are relevant, simple, low cost and user-friendly, as well as qualify to fulfill the new HR2 (SGR) requirements for physicians to demonstrate quality and practice improvement.

The ABD is simplifying MOC. For more details see What’s New in MOC.


License Attestation

CME Attestation
     Patient Safety
     Periodic Self-Assessment
     Practice Improvement

     MOC Exam

For more details about all the above MOC Requirements, see MOC FAQs.

For a list of all options available for completing the various MOC Components, as well as feedback by other diplomates about them, see the MOC Resource Vendor List.

License Attestation:
We ask that you verify annually that you hold an active license to practice medicine or osteopathy in the United States or Canada and that there have been no adverse actions against any of the licenses you hold in the United States or Canada, by January 31st of each year in order to "meet MOC requirements.” This is the only MOC requirement that is due prior to December 31 of the calendar year. Adverse actions against any state license you hold will be reported to the ABD via the Disciplinary Action Notification Service (DANS) of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Clinically Active
In addition, we ask that you tell us annually whether or not you are clinically active. "Clinically Active" is defined as any amount of direct and/or consultative patient care that has been provided in the preceding 12 months. If you check the box on your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List that you are not clinically active, you will be asked to contact the ABD. An ABD staff member will discuss the implications and provide information about how you can maintain your Board certification. For details, please see our Clinically Inactive Policy.

For more details, see MOC FAQs: Professional Standing.

CME Attestation:

Each year, you are responsible for attesting to having earned a minimum of 25 hours of Category I CME. Half of the credits must be within the physician's specialty area or practice (i.e., 50% in dermatology). These hours should be accumulated in dermatologic education, but hours directly related to your type of practice are acceptable. For example, CME related to internal medicine would be acceptable if your practice is primarily a hospital-based consultation practice. Ethics, office management, and physician-patient relations are appropriate subjects for CME, but are not considered specialty-specific education. The American Board of Medical Specialties strongly recommends that 1/3 of each year’s CME credits (e.g., > 8 credits per year) involve CME exercises that are also self-assessment activities (see Periodic Self-Assessment for more details).

For more details, see MOC FAQs: Continuous Medical Education (CME).

 Patient Safety Exercise: 

We have simplified the Patient Safety requirement.

A foundational patient safety course or equivalent learning experience must be performed only once in a diplomate’s career, either before or within the first two years of MOC participation. Approved options for completing this have been greatly expanded and now include:

  • The existing online AAD Patient Safety Module
  • The 2-Part CME Patient Safety Article published in the J Am Acad Dermatol in August, 2009. (Elston DM et al 2009 Part I; Elston DM et al 2009, Part II)
  • An ACGME Clinical Learning Environment Review (CLER)-approved patient safety curriculum during dermatology residency
  • A patient safety course or curriculum completed in medical school
  • A patient safety module performed for state licensure or hospital credentialing or employment
  • Attendance at a live patient safety education session such as a specialty society CME course or symposium that has the objectives of broadly covering a range of dermatology patient safety topics
  • Participation in any other ABD-approved foundational patient safety activity

Thereafter, fulfilling a new, streamlined PI activity every 10 years (once in each diplomate’s MOC cycle) will satisfy this requirement.

See the MOC Resource Vendor List for suggested resources for fulfilling this requirement.

For more details, see MOC FAQs: Patient Safety

Periodic Self-Assessment:

The Self-Assessment portion of MOC emphasizes learning based on self-assessment. The activities address relevant medical knowledge, ongoing advances and competencies in our specialty, based on practice gaps identified within dermatology. In order to “meet MOC requirements” you will need to complete 100 self-assessment credits in Years 1-3, 4-6 and 7-10 of the 10-year cycle, for a total of 300 credits in the 10-year cycle.

We are greatly expanding the options for fulfilling the Periodic Self-Assessment requirement. To learn more see:

Teaming with specialty societies to develop an online SA Questions Bank composed of all existing vetted SA questions that will be available free to all diplomates.

Creating a web-based archive of “practice-changing articles” from the literature with commentaries that provide both SA and PI credit.

Begin to accept self-assessment credit for approved educational activities involving hands-on technical skill development workshops using live or simulated patients, and other types of clinical mentoring.

 Creating more opportunities for diplomates to receive simultaneous credit for several different MOC requirements in the completion of a single activity.

Providing SA credit for the In-Training exam

See the MOC Resource Vendor List for suggested resources for fulfilling this requirement.

For more details, see MOC FAQs: Periodic Self-Assessment.

Practice Improvement: 

These activities are an opportunity to reflect on what might be improved in the care you deliver, whether organized around a specific disease or an important patient care function (such as improved access to health care, improved patient outcomes or an improved patient experience).

The American Board of Medical Specialties recently expanded the ways in which this requirement can be completed. These include the use of registries, patient logs, patient surveys, peer surveys, practice improvement modules, performance improvement CME activities, etc. The ABD is actively expanding the offerings that we can provide to you, our diplomates, to fulfill this requirement.

One QI activity must be completed in the first 5 years of each 10-year MOC cycle and another in the second.


The American Board of Dermatology and many dermatology organizations are actively engaged in creating focused Quality Improvement activities that we hope will be useful and relatively easy to perform by busy dermatologists in private practice. For more details, click here

 A number of options for completing Practice Improvement requirements already exist:

Both the Patient Communication Survey and Peer Communication Survey are now completely optional ways of fulfilling this requirement. Only one survey may count per ten-year cycle.

We have developed an online BCC Registry that is available on the ABD's MOC Educational Portal.

 Several resources are currently offered by the AAD to complete this Practice Improvement activity requirement. For more details, click here.

 The ABD also participates in the Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program which grants institutional approval to conduct Component 4 Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement activities. If you practice in one of the approved institutions, you should determine whether you can access such a resource.

Dermatopathologists not engaged in patient care will likely be able to use a program developed by the American Society of Dermatopathology. This is provided at their annual meeting and listed in the MOC Resource Vendor List. The ABD will work with diplomates who primarily are engaged in regulatory or other functions to design programs meaningful to their spheres of expertise.

For more details, see MOC FAQs: Practice Improvement (PI).

MOC Examination: 

We are re-evaluating many aspects of the MOC Exam. We are working with one of the preeminent psychometrician groups in the country to develop more clinically relevant test questions; we are surveying diplomates for their input about possible examination formats; and we are developing test questions that can lead to the creation of a cosmetic dermatology module. For more information, see:

Surveyed our diplomates for their opinions about optimizing the MOC Examination experience.

Developing a cosmetic curriculum (set of questions) that may ultimately lead to development of a MOC Exam Cosmetic Module.

Once per 10-year cycle, you will need to take and pass a closed-book proctored examination administered by the ABD. The examination is clinically-oriented and is representative of the challenges presented by individual patients seen in the clinical practice of dermatology. The exam does not replicate the original certifying examination. Exam questions are developed by clinical dermatologists in both academic and private practice in conjunction with the volunteer ABD Directors. The examination is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers near your home or office, or vie remote proctoring.

The examination consists of two modules. Everyone must take and pass a general dermatology module that consists of 100 clinical images followed by a question asking for the most likely diagnosis among 5 distractors. A list of diagnoses from which the images will be chosen is available within the MOC Question Pool portion of our website at least 6 months in advance of the examination.

Passing a second module is also required. Choices include medical dermatology, dermatopathology, surgical dermatology and pediatric dermatology. This second module consists of 50 questions taken from a published list of 100 questions available within the MOC Question Pool portion of our website. These questions are a mix of images and written questions all in the "one-best-answer" format.

Once you have entered MOC, you may take the examination at any time during years 3-10 of the MOC cycle. By Year 10 of your MOC cycle, you will need to pass the examination in order to remain certified.

If you take and pass the examination early, no more than 12 years may elapse before taking and passing the examination again. Your MOC table needs to be completely up-to-date for you to take the MOC recertification examination or receive your new certificate. Passing the examination early does not mean that you begin the next 10-year MOC cycle early. You will enter the next 10-year cycle only when your current certificate expires. New certificates are mailed when your current certificate expires. (For example, if you take and pass the examination in 2014 but your certificate does not expire until 2015, you will not receive your new certificate until December, 2015.)

For more details, see MOC FAQs: MOC Examination.

Annual MOC Fee

Each year, the ABD will send you a reminder via email about the MOC $150 program fee that is due by December 31st of that year in order to "meet MOC requirements."

To view a summary of what your annual $150 pays for, see Where Do Your Fees Go?

For additional details, see MOC FAQS: Annual Fees.


Contact Us

American Board of Dermatology
2 Wells Avenue
Newton, Massachusetts 02459
Office Hours: Mon-Fri,
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ET
(617) 910-6400 (Phone)

Our Mission

To serve the public and profession by setting high standards for dermatologists to earn and maintain Board certification.