Recent ABD Policy Updates



Policy to Simplify MOC Part 4 Requirements (Approved 10-7-2014)
Until this point, Part 4 has required 2 peer surveys, 2 patient surveys and 2 quality improvement projects – for a total of six components to be completed during every 10-year MOC cycle. Beginning January 1, 2015, ABMS’ simplified requirements will allow the ABD to take the initiative to reduce the requirements from six components every 10 years to just two components (one in each 5-year period). You may complete either two quality improvement projects or one quality improvement project and one survey.

Application Fee Waiver for MOC Products Developed by Professional Organizations (Approved 9-2014)
Because of our commitment to an MOC program with a diversity of relevant, low cost, high value Part II & IV tools, ABD will waive the approval application fee for any organization that develops MOC products which meet the following criteria:
  1. Sponsored by a member driven 501(c)3 organization for which full membership requires ABD certification in dermatology or an ABD subspecialty. 
  2. The activity will be offered free as a member benefit of the organization.
ABD Policy for BCC Registry Use (Approved 8-5-2014)
ABD’s BCC Registry is a quality improvement tool designed to evaluate the outcome of patients treated for basal cell carcinoma and followed for two years:
  1. Diplomates select 10 consecutive BCC patients and record their data in the YEAR ONE section of the portal.  After getting normative feedback the diplomate reflects on the outcome.
  2. One year later, the diplomate completes 2 more questions in the YEAR TWO section of the portal for those same 10 patients.  After getting normative feedback the diplomate again reflects on the outcome.
  3. One more year later, the diplomate completes one more question in the YEAR THREE section of the portal for those same 10 patients.  After getting normative feedback the diplomate again reflects on the outcome to consider if any practice changes are indicated.

Completing all 3 sections retrospectively, in one sitting, is not permitted since doing so devalues this continuous quality improvement exercise which is intended to help the diplomate consider ways to improve practice processes and outcomes.   However, the ABD will permit retrospective data entry by diplomates in Year 9 or 10 of their MOC cycle, in order to allow the exercise to be completed prior to entering their next cycle of MOC. 

Policy on 60 CME Credits Awarded by AMA (Approved 7-24-2014)
With the successful completion of an ABD examination, diplomates are eligible to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits™. The ABD has contracted with the AMA to provide these credits at no cost to the diplomate. The AMA will send the diplomate a certificate for this credit via email. The ABD will also waive the diplomate’s CME requirement for Maintenance of Certification for one year. 

Please note the following:

  • The 60 CME credits are awarded in the year that they were earned, that is, the year of passing the examination. The credits cannot be applied to subsequent years.
  • The CME requirement for Maintenance of Certification is waived for one year after passing the examination. This year could be for the first year in MOC or the next year’s CME attestation requirement if the diplomate is already in MOC.
  • If the diplomate has CME requirements for licensure, hospital privileges, etc., in the year that the CME requirement for Maintenance of Certification is waived, the diplomate will still have to fulfill those requirements in order to maintain licensure or privileges.


  • If the diplomate passes the certifying examination in 2014, s/he will be granted 60 CME credits from the AMA in 2014. The diplomate will enter into Maintenance of Certification on January 1, 2015. The CME requirements for ABD Maintenance of Certification will be waived for 2015. For the purpose of Maintenance of Certification the diplomate will not need to attest to earning CME credits in 2015. However, if the diplomate’s medical licensure requires earning a certain number of CME credits yearly, the diplomate will still need to earn CME credits in 2015.
  • If the diplomate passes the MOC-Recertification exam, the Board will waive the requirement to attest to earning CME credits for the very next year of the MOC cycle.
Policy for Lapsed Certificates (Approved 5-1-2014)
A diplomate who has allowed his or her certificate to lapse for more than three years and wishes to have the certificate reinstated must fulfill the following requirements:

1. All Recertification/MOC fees from the time of the lapsed certificate must be paid in full.

2. A recertification examination must be completed and successfully passed. The examination must include the 100 item General Dermatology module and one additional 50 item module.

3. In the two years following successful completion of the recertification examination, the applicant must

    • continue to pay all MOC fees 
    • complete a total of 100 CME credits
    • complete a patient safety exercise*

4. The applicant must successfully pass a second recertification examination two years later. That examination will consist of one 50 item module that was not taken previously.

5. Following completion of steps one through four, the applicant must enter the MOC process and remain in good standing.

For diplomates whose certificates have lapsed less than three years, the Certificate Review Committee will consider each case individually and determine what steps are to be taken to bring the diplomate back into compliance.

*If the diplomate previously completed an ABD-approved patient safety module, this requirement may be satisfied by various other offerings, including patient safety modules required for state licensure or those offered by health care institutions, malpractice insurance carriers and third-party payers. If the diplomate has not completed an ABD-approved exercise, doing so is required.

Policy on Clinically Inactive and Retired Status (Approved 10-21-2013)
A diplomate with a time-limited certificate who is not clinically active has two options to remain certified:
  1. The diplomate whose professional career has resulted in a discontinuation of patient care but who maintains a valid medical license may be classified as Certified-Clinically Inactive.
  2. The diplomate who retires from practice may be classified as Certified-Retired.

Certified-Clinically Inactive
A diplomate who becomes clinically inactive should notify the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) in writing to request clinically inactive status. The ABD defines clinically inactive as not seeing patients or being involved with patient care, including dermatopathology, for a period of at least 12 months. The ABD shall place the diplomate on Certified-Clinically Inactive status, unless it appears that the diplomate may have engaged in an activity described in Article VII, section 3 of the ABD Bylaws. A diplomate in clinically inactive status shall automatically forfeit certification if he or she returns to regular clinical practice without reactivating ABD certification. To maintain the status of Certified-Clinically Inactive, the diplomate with a time-limited certificate must retain a valid medical license and remain active in the Maintenance of Certification in Dermatology (MOC) program with the exception of MOC Part 4 (Evaluation of Clinical Practice).

A diplomate in Certified-Clinically Inactive status who wishes to return to active clinical practice may apply for reinstatement of full certification. Any application for reinstatement will be considered by the Certificate Review Committee (CRC) of the ABD. If the CRC determines to reinstate full certification, the certificate will be time-limited and the diplomate must agree to remain active in all parts of the MOC program. If the MOC examination has not been successfully completed within the previous 5 years, it will be necessary for the diplomate to take the MOC examination within 1 year. If the RC denies reinstatement of full certification, the diplomate may appeal to the Appeals Committee, in accordance with ABD Policy.

If the diplomate has no plans to return to active clinical practice, the diplomate may request status as Certified-Retired. Active participation in the MOC program and medical licensure are not required in the retired status. The diplomate should intend to remain in retired status. If a diplomate in Certified-Retired status wishes to re-enter clinical practice, the requirements for reinstatement and active participation in the MOC program detailed in the Policy for Lapsed Certificates will apply.

Training Requirements to Enter Dermatology Residency (PGY-1 Requirements) (Approved 8-19-2013)
The first year (PGY1) must consist of 12 months of clinical training in one of the following types of broad-based programs in the United States accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or a similar program in Canada accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada: a transitional year (formerly called flexible first postgraduate year), or a first year residency in emergency medicine, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics & gynecology, pediatrics or preliminary year.

Program Directors who anticipate matching a candidate with a PGY-1 year other than those listed above should contact the American Board of Dermatology to inquire about the possibility of an exception. Exceptions may be granted after review of the individual’s PGY-1 training schedule.

Non-Completion of MOC Requirements by Year 10 (Approved 6-9-2013)
The ABD office will send certified notices in January of years 8, 9 & 10 to diplomates with time-limited certification whose MOC program is not up to date. The notice will serve as a reminder that if their MOC program remains incomplete at the end of the 10th year their status as an ABD certified dermatologist will be discontinued. All components of MOC must be complete in order to be re-certified and begin the next 10 year MOC cycle.

Diplomates who are not up to date by the end of the 10th year of MOC due to extenuating circumstances and who can complete all remaining MOC requirements in an additional six months, may apply to ABD for a one-time extension, giving an explanation for the delay to ABD.

If the extension is approved by ABD, the diplomate must complete all remaining components of the first 10 year cycle during that six month period. If their MOC program remains incomplete at the end of the six month extension the diplomate will no longer be certified.

Successful completion of all components of MOC by the end of the six month extension will not result in a delay of the next 10 year MOC cycle. Requirements for completing all components of the next 10 year MOC cycle must be completed without delay. Therefore, in addition to completing all delinquent components during the six month extension, the requirements of year one for the next MOC cycle must be completed in that same calendar year.

ITE Policy – Make-up Date for Unanticipated Absences (Approved 7-2012)
Unanticipated events may interfere with a resident’s ability to take the In-Training exam on the scheduled date.  Such events could include significant personal illness, illness in the immediate family or a death in the family.  Such events would not include scheduled vacations, weddings, anniversaries, etc.  If an unanticipated event occurs that prevents the resident from taking the exam as scheduled, the program director may appeal to the ABD to allow the resident to take the exam on the day it is offered to the overseas programs (typically, the Monday after the US/Canadian Thursday test date).  
  • The program director must attest to the unanticipated event and ensure that the resident will be monitored throughout the exam.  
  • In addition to the standard honor code, the resident must attest in writing that he/she has not discussed the exam with anyone prior to the test date.
  • Test scores for these residents will not be included in statistical analysis and the residents will not get an official percentile rank since he/she did not take the exam under the standard conditions.
  • This policy does not apply to international residents.
Time Period for Taking Part 3 MOC Examination (Flexible Exam Administration) (Approved 1-1-2012 and published in March, 2012 Diplomate newsletter)
Previously, diplomates could take the closed-book proctored examination only the last 3 years of the 10 year cycle. As of January 1, 2012, the examination can be taken during years 3-10 of the MOC cycle. However, no more than 12 years may elapse before taking and passing the examination for the next cycle. The intent of this change is to reduce examination pressure and to allow diplomates more flexibility in deciding the optimal time to take the test.

Five Year Eligibility Policy for Taking the Certifying Examination (Approved 1-1-2012 and published in January, 2012 Diplomate newsletter)
Beginning January 1, 2012, residents who complete an approved dermatology residency will not be permitted to take the certifying examination later than five years following the completion of their training. Physicians who completed dermatology residency training prior to 2012 will not be permitted to take the certifying examination after December 31, 2016. A dermatologist who has not met these requirements may not claim to be "board eligible" unless the American Board of Dermatology determines that that physician has been prevented from taking the examination within the applicable five year period by military deployment or by catastrophic illness. If either of these situations exists, a dermatologist wishing to claim to be “board eligible” or wishing to take the examination after the expiration of the five year period may be granted a one or two year deferral by making application to the Board. The decision to grant or deny a deferral will be at the sole discretion of the Board. This policy also applies to diplomates completing subspecialty fellowships with certification examinations

Contact Us

American Board of Dermatology
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Newton, Massachusetts 02459
Office Hours: Mon-Fri,
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(617) 910-6400 (Phone/Fax)

Our Mission

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