MOC FAQs

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QUESTIONS

The American Board of Dermatology

What does it mean to be board certified?
Who are the certifying and accrediting organizations in dermatology?
Who are the educational and advocacy organizations in dermatology?
What is the American Board of Dermatology? Who are its volunteer directors?
What is the difference between the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)?
What are the ABD’s expectations of professionalism in its diplomates?

MOC Overview and Background

What is the purpose of MOC (Maintenance of Certification)?
How are the requirements for MOC determined?
What is the basic structure of MOC?
Why should all dermatologists participate in MOC?
What are the requirements for participating in MOC?
What is the difference between Recertification and Maintenance of Certification?
What are the differences between lifetime certificates and time-limited certificates?

Lifetime Certificate Holders

Why is the MOC process voluntary for diplomates certified prior to 1991?
As a lifetime certificate holder, why should I take the MOC examination? What are the advantages?
As a lifetime certificate holder, can I enter MOC without taking the recertification exam?
As a lifetime certificate holder, what happens to my lifetime certification if I fail the MOC examination?
As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the MOC examination am I required to participate in the rest of the MOC process?
As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the recertification exam but do not participate in MOC, am I considered “participating in MOC” or not?
As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the recertification exam but do not immediately participate in MOC, can I begin participating at a later date?

MOC General Questions

What's new in MOC?
As a graduating resident taking and passing the ABD certifying examination, when do I enter MOC and when should I start completing the component requirements?
I am doing a fellowship following my dermatology residency. When does MOC start for me?
If I have primary certification in Dermatology as well as sub-certification in Pediatric Dermatology or Dermatopathology, do I have to participate in two MOC programs?
What happens if I decide not to participate in MOC?
What happens if I stop participating in MOC, but later want to start participating again?
If I stop participating in MOC, do I lose my board certification status?
Once I am no longer board certified, can I regain certification status?
Is my MOC status posted online for the public to see?
How am I listed if I am a Lifetime Certificate Holder?
What happens if I near the end of my 10-year MOC cycle and am not up-to date with MOC requirements?
Will the ABD remind me when I have a MOC deadline coming up? Will they tell me if I have missed a MOC deadline?
Can I complete all 10 years of my MOC requirements at one time? 
Can my institution’s requirements fulfill any of my personal MOC requirements?
Can my practice purchase MOC materials and share them?
What is the Disciplinary Action Notification System (DANS) and how can it affect my board certification status?
Where can I locate the resources approved to satisfy the MOC requirements?
What is the ABD doing to improve MOC for its diplomates?

Why is MOC so expensive? 
Is there an inherent conflict of interest in the American Board of Dermatology setting the rules for MOC, and then creating and selling products to fulfill those requirements?
What is “continuous MOC” that some of the other boards are now instituting?

Annual Fee

What is the annual MOC fee and when is it due? 
How do I make the payment online? 
Is the $150 annual MOC fee voluntary? Can I pay it, instead, once every 10 years? 
If I take the MOC exam early, will I end up paying additional years of annual MOC fees? 
What happens if I don’t pay my annual MOC fees?

Professional Standing

What is needed to fulfill the Professional Standing requirement? 
What is License Attestation, and when must it be completed? 
How do I complete the License Attestation online? 
What if I am not clinically active?

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

How many CME credits must be obtained each year? 
What kind of CME credits count for the MOC program? 
What counts for Category 1 CME credits? 
The American Board of Medical Specialties recommends that one-third of each year’s credits (e.g., > 8) be obtained with self-assessment activities. What exactly are self-assessment activities? 
How do I attest online for the CME credits I have received, and when must this be completed? 
If I earn more than the minimum number of credits required during a MOC cycle, can I carry credits forward to the next cycle?

Patient Safety

What is a Patient Safety module, and how often must one be completed? 
How do I attest that I have completed a Patient Safety module online? 
How do I find resources to complete this Patient Safety module requirement?

Periodic Self-Assessment (SA)

What is a Periodic Self-Assessment module and how often must one be completed? 
How do I attest that I have completed Periodic Self-Assessment questions online? 
How do I find resources to complete the Periodic Self-Assessment requirement? 
How can I learn about practice gaps, so that I can choose Periodic Self-Assessment programs that will "close" practice gaps relevant to my practice? 
If I complete more than the minimum number of Self-Assessments required during a MOC cycle, can I carry forward any additional self-assessments completed to the next cycle?

Practice Improvement

What is a Practice Improvement Activity, and how often must one be completed? 
Is it true that the Patient Communication Survey and Peer Communication Survey are no longer required? 
How many Patient Communication Surveys must be sent out to qualify? 
How many Peer Communication Surveys must be sent out to qualify, and to whom must they go? 
Can my institution’s requirements fulfill any of my personal practice improvement MOC requirements? 
Can my practice purchase MOC materials and share them? 
Can a group of dermatologists participate together in a practice improvement activity and complete it together? 
How do I find resources to complete this Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement Activity requirement? 
How do I attest online that I have completed a Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement Activity?

MOC Examination

What does the MOC examination consist of, and how long does it take to complete? 
Do I need to have all of my MOC requirements complete prior to applying for the MOC exam? 
When can I apply to take the MOC exam? 
Can I take the MOC exam early? 
How do I apply to take the MOC exam? 
After being declared admissible, how do I schedule my examination? 
Where are the Pearson VUE test centers located? 
How do you recommend I study for the MOC examination? 
Do I receive CME credit for completing the examination? 
When will I get results? 
Why does it take so long to get results from a computer-based exam? 
When and why did the MOC exam change from an open book exam to a computer-based exam?

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

The American Board of Dermatology

What does it mean to be board certified? 

Becoming Board certified is a process that involves much more than preparing for and passing an examination. Certification by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) is the public’s assurance that the certified individual has satisfactorily completed rigorous training in an accredited program, as well as having passed a comprehensive examination. Initial certification is simply the portal into a career-spanning process of maintenance of certification (MOC) to continue that assurance to the public.

Who are the certifying and accrediting organizations in dermatology?

The ABD certifies dermatologists who meet qualifications in dermatology, dermatopathology, and pediatric dermatology.  The ABD is a Founding Member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), an organization consisting of 24 Member Boards.  The ABMS reviews and approves Member Board maintenance of certification processes.  The ABMS Member Boards certify the majority of medical specialists in the US.   

The major accrediting organization for training programs in the US is the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).  The ACGME, in concert with its Residency Review Committees (RRC), sets and maintains national standards of graduate medical training.  In dermatology, it currently accredits 115 residency programs, 53 dermatopathology fellowships, and 63 procedural dermatology fellowships.  The ABD is involved in the process through the contributions of members of its Board of Directors who serve on the RRC along with appointees from the AMA.   

Who are the educational and advocacy organizations in dermatology?

There are many specialty and subspecialty groups that function as educational and advocacy organizations.  The largest of these is the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).  These educational and advocacy organizations are independent of the ABD. For more information, see What is the difference between the ABD and the AAD? For a discussion of the differences between certifying Boards and professional Societies refer to the following article: Boards Evaluate, Societies Educate

What is the American Board of Dermatology? Who are its volunteer directors?

The American Board of Dermatology (ABD) is one of 24 medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). It exists to assure safe, high quality dermatologic care for the public by setting, promoting and assuring standards of excellence in the practice of our specialty. The ABD is a voluntary, non-profit organization formed for the primary purpose of protecting the public interest by establishing and maintaining high standards of training, education and qualifications of physicians rendering care in dermatology. 

The ABD is composed of 17 volunteer Directors (16 dermatologists and one Public Member), an Executive staff and support staff. Each director is elected to the board and serves a 9-year term.  

For further information, see About the American Board of Dermatology. 

What is the difference between the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)?

The American Board of Dermatology (ABD) is an autonomous body that acts as the certifying agency for the specialty of dermatology. 

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) is the largest national professional society for the specialty of dermatology. Its purposes are to educate dermatologists and the public, and to represent the specialty on issues concerning other professional organizations, the public, industry, and the government. Membership in the AAD is not limited to Board certified dermatologists, but includes other dermatologists, other physicians and health care providers from all over the world who have an interest in the field of dermatology. 

For more information, see What is the difference between the ABD and the AAD? 

For a discussion of the differences between certifying Boards and professional Societies refer to the following article: Boards Evaluate, Societies Educate

What are the ABD’s expectations of professionalism in its diplomates?

Please refer to the American Board of Medical Specialties Definition of Medical Professionalism.

MOC Overview and Background

What is the purpose of MOC (Maintenance of Certification)?

MOC is a program that offers assurance to the public that the competency the Diplomate evidenced when awarded initial certification in Dermatology is maintained during continuing professional life.

How are the requirements for MOC determined?

The ABD is one of the 24 Member Boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The ABMS established the four-part structure of its Maintenance of Certification program (ABMS MOC®) based on six core competencies adopted by ABMS and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The individual Member Boards of ABMS develop their MOC plans within the overall structure of ABMS MOC and submit their MOC programs to ABMS for approval. As an ABMS Member Board, the ABD must follow the requirements of the ABMS. For example, the ABD MOC examination was initially a 6-week-long, open-book, unproctored exam, but requirements of the ABMS mandated a change to a proctored exam.

What is the basic structure of MOC?

ABMS MOC consists of 3 components:

Professional Standing is evidence of continuing professionalism in maintaining a valid, unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States or Canada. (License Attestation)

Professional Development demonstrates that the Diplomate has kept abreast of current medical knowledge with self-learning (CME), patient safety, self-assessment and practice improvement (PI) activities.

MOC Exam is a cognitive examination. Successful completion of this examination is evidence that the Diplomate has remained current with appropriate medical knowledge.

For additional information, also see:

Why should all dermatologists participate in MOC?

Please see The Value of MOC.

What are the requirements for participating in MOC?

1. $150 annual fee due by December 31 of every year. The fee supports the program including the examination.
2. Attestation that all medical licenses are full, valid, and unrestricted, along with attestation of clinically active status, by January 31 of every year.
3. A foundational Patient Safety module must be completed before or soon after the start of MOC.
4. Obtain 25 hours of Category 1 CME credit every year.
5. Self-Assessment exercise three times per ten-year cycle.
6. Practice Assessment activity done twice in the ten-year cycle (one completed by year five and the second completed by year 10).

For more specific details about these requirements, see FAQ sections:

See also MOC Requirements and What's New in MOC.

What is the difference between Recertification and Maintenance of Certification?

From 1991-2006 the ABD recertification process consisted of a requirement to have (1) a full, valid, and unrestricted license to practice medicine, (2) 90 hours of CME credits in the 3 years prior to taking a recertification examination, (3) an ethics letter and hospital affiliation letter, and (4) the recertification examination. The exam was first administered in paper-and-pencil form and evolved to an online format in 2003. This examination was initially open-book, but the need to ensure the identity of the person taking the examination required the ABD to administer a secure proctored, closed book examination beginning in 2010.

In 2006 the recertification process evolved into the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program, a program of continuous professional development. This allows the Diplomate to demonstrate ongoing competency after completing residency. This continuous program of MOC is in distinction to the bolus of CME and an examination which made up the recertification process. For more details see MOC: Overview and History and FAQ: What are the requirements for participating in MOC?

What are the differences between lifetime certificates and time-limited certificates?

Between 1933 and 1990, certificates in Dermatology issued by the ABD had no expiration date. These certificates will not change as long as the Diplomate maintains a full, valid, unrestricted license to practice medicine. Time-limited certificates require engagement in a renewal process during a 10-year period. The first year that the ABD issued a time-limited certificate was in 1991. All 24 boards comprising the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) now issue time-limited certificates. For more details see MOC: Overview and History.


Lifetime Certificate Holders

Why is the MOC process voluntary for diplomates certified prior to 1991?

Prior to 1991, certificates issued by the ABD did not contain an expiration date; therefore, such certificates are known as "lifetime" certificates because they are valid provided the diplomate maintains a current, valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine. The ABD will not change the rules after the fact, and therefore lifetime certificate holders have the same certificates they received initially. Diplomates who hold a lifetime certificate are strongly encouraged, but not required, to participate in MOC. The ABD believes that it will become increasingly necessary for lifetime certificate holders to participate in MOC as MOC becomes the standard for defining competence by the public, payers, hospitals, credentialing agencies and more. Time-limited certificates have been issued since 1991. They are valid for a period of 10 years. Diplomates are required to satisfactorily participate in the MOC process in order to extend the validity of their certificates. See also FAQ: What are the differences between lifetime certificates and time-limited certificates?

As a lifetime certificate holder, why should I take the MOC examination? What are the advantages?

The advantage of taking the MOC examination is to demonstrate that you are maintaining the competence which you demonstrated by successfully passing the initial certifying examination. This demonstrable evidence of continued competence is available to patients, to payers, and to credentialing bodies such as hospital staffs and professional organizations. For a variety of reasons, an increasing number of ABD lifetime certificate holders are voluntarily entering the MOC program. The Joint Commission is encouraging hospitals to show evidence that they are evaluating the ACGME's 6 competencies as a part of their credentialing process. Some payers in health care (HMOs, insurance companies, the government) also require similar evidence. Activity in a MOC program fulfills these requirements. See also The Value of MOC.

As a lifetime certificate holder, can I enter MOC without taking the MOC exam?

Beginning in January of 2011, lifetime certificate holders as well as recertified individuals not yet in MOC were able to enter the program without first taking an examination. The American Board of Dermatology wants to encourage all its diplomates to enter MOC for the sake of the educational and practice assessment components (see FAQ: As a lifetime certificate holder, why should I take the MOC examination? What are the advantages?) Notify the ABD office by email or letter if you want to apply to enter MOC. We will provide you with access to your MyMOC Table and MyMOC List on the restricted portion of the website, at which point you may make the first year's payment of $150 by December 31, attest to your licenses and clinically active status. By the end of the first year, you will need to document a minimum of 25 hours of CME. For a full description of the MOC requirements in each 10-year MOC cycle, see FAQ: What are the requirements for participating in MOC?

As a lifetime certificate holder, what happens to my lifetime certification if I fail the MOC examination?

Your lifetime certification cannot be revoked, even if you were to not pass the MOC examination. If you take and pass the MOC examination you will be considered "recertified." In order to remain recertified ten years hence, you must enter Maintenance of Certification and take another MOC exam within ten years. No matter what you decide, your original certification remains valid.

As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the MOC examination am I required to participate in the rest of the MOC process?

As a lifetime certificate holder, if you take and pass the MOC examination, you are not required to participate in the MOC program. However, for a variety of reasons, an increasing number of ABD lifetime certificate holders are voluntarily entering the MOC program. For details, see FAQ: As a lifetime certificate holder, why should I take the MOC examination? What are the advantages?

If you do participate in MOC, your official ABMS designation will be: "Lifetime certificate holder, recertified 20XX, actively participating in the MOC program." For those who do not participate in the MOC program, the ABMS designation will state "MOC is Not Required," but it will not say actively participating in the MOC program.

As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the recertification exam but do not participate in MOC, am I considered "participating in MOC" or not?

If you did not complete all of the required MOC components in the prior year, then you are considered "not participating in MOC."

As a lifetime certificate holder, if I pass the recertification exam but do not immediately participate in MOC, can I begin participating at a later date?

Yes, it was decided that flexibility will best serve the evolving needs of our lifetime certificate holder diplomates. Many cases will need to be dealt with on an individual basis, and the Requirements Committee may be asked to help make some of the decisions regarding MOC entry. See also FAQ: As a lifetime certificate holder, why should I take the MOC examination? What are the advantages?


MOC General Questions

What's new in MOC?

Please see What's New in MOC

As a graduating resident taking and passing the ABD certifying examination, when do I enter MOC and when should I start completing the component requirements?

Upon passing the certifying examination, residents are automatically enrolled in the MOC program. Your MOC period begins on January 1 after the July certifying examination. Participation in MOC components prior to the onset of the MOC period is not discouraged, but diplomates are not currently eligible to count MOC credit for their activities until their MOC period commences, with the exception of the foundational patient safety exercise. In your first year, you must attest by January 31 that you have a full, valid and unrestricted medical license. The ABD will waive your first year of MOC requirements, but you must pay the $150 Annual Fee. In subsequent years, you must attest to 25 hours of CME every year, complete one patient safety exercise (if not completed during training), complete three (3) self-assessment exercises over the 10 year cycle, and complete two practice improvement activities in the 10 year cycle. For more details see MOC FAQ: What are the requirements for participating in MOC? and the article MOC in Dermatology - requirements for diplomates.

I am doing a fellowship following my dermatology residency. When does MOC start for me?

You enter MOC the year after you pass the ABD certifying examination. However, during your fellowship year, you are exempt from having to earn CME for MOC and from paying the annual $150 MOC fee. After your fellowship is complete, you are required to obtain 25 hours of CME credits per calendar year and begin paying the annual $150 fee. For example, if you took the certification examination in July 2014 and your fellowship was completed on June 30, 2015, then your CME accrual begins January 1, 2016 and the annual fee is due by December 31, 2016. Check your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List in the diplomate-restricted portion of the website to make sure you have received credit for your fellowship year. For more details see MOC FAQ: What are the requirements for participating in MOC?

If I have primary certification in Dermatology as well as subcertification in Pediatric Dermatology or Dermatopathology, do I have to participate in two MOC programs?

Subspecialty MOC subcertification will be linked to primary MOC. When you take the MOC examination, you will be required to complete an extra module of test questions in your subspecialty. Everyone must take the 100 item general dermatology module. Everyone must take a second 50 item module in either medical dermatology, dermatopathology, surgical dermatology or pediatric dermatology. If you need to simultaneously recertify in your subspecialty, a second 50 item module must be successfully completed. For example, a pediatric dermatologist would take general dermatology (100 items), pediatric dermatology 1 (50 items) and pediatric dermatology 2 (50 items). For more information about these two subcertification programs, see: Subspecialty Information: Pediatric Dermatology and Subspecialty Information: Dermatopathology.

What happens if I decide not to participate in MOC?

The MOC cycle is an annual one, so a diplomate will be considered "not participating in MOC" if he or she has not met all MOC requirements for that year by Dec 31st. The decision to not participate will be reflected on the ABMS website as "No" to "Meeting MOC Requirements." Non-Participant status does not immediately affect your Board Certification status.

Diplomates participating in the MOC program may apply for and take the MOC exam any time during years 3-10 of their MOC cycle. 

All MOC requirements must be completed by the end of year 10 in the 10-year MOC cycle in order to be recertified and considered "participating in MOC." See also FAQ: What happens if I stop participating in MOC, but later want to start participating again? and FAQ: If I stop participating in MOC, do I lose my board certification status?

What happens if I stop participating in MOC, but later want to start participating again?

If you choose to become an active participant again in the future, you will need to pay a reinstatement fee consisting of all outstanding MOC annual fees. In addition, you will need to complete all outstanding MOC requirements before applying to take the MOC exam.

If I stop participating in MOC, do I lose my board certification status?

If a diplomate has not completed all required MOC elements by the end of a given year they are "not participating in MOC". However, at the moment in dermatology, diplomates maintain their "certification" status until the end of their current 10-year cycle. At that time, if they have not completed all other MOC requirements, they will not be allowed to sit for the next MOC exam and, therefore, will no longer be deemed "certified" by us. For more information, see: General Rules, Regulations and Information for All Examinations: Expiration of MOC Certificate.

In the new "continuous" MOC protocol that some other boards are instituting, certification ends as soon as participation in MOC ceases. For more information about continuous MOC, see FAQ: What is "continuous MOC" that some of the other boards are now instituting?

 Once I am no longer board certified, can I regain certification status?

In 2014 the American Board of Dermatology approved a policy for diplomates whose certification has lapsed. Listed below are the requirements a diplomate with a lapsed certificate must fulfill in order to become "board certified in dermatology" again. 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*
    1. 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.
    2. 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 Requirements and 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 a 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.

 Is my MOC status posted online for the public to see?

Yes. Along with the other 24 ABMS specialty boards, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) now posts on its Certification Matters website the certification and recertification status of all ABD diplomates. Included in the status information is whether a diplomate with time-limited certification is "meeting MOC requirements." The designation "meeting MOC requirements" attests that all components of MOC were completed by December 31st of the previous year. The ABMS includes a statement that diplomates with lifetime certificates are not required to participate in maintenance of certification.

How am I listed if I am a Lifetime Certificate Holder?

The ABMS includes a statement on their website's listing of all diplomates that individuals with lifetime certificates are not required to participate in maintenance of certification ("MOC is Not Required").

 What happens if I near the end of my 10-year MOC cycle and am not up-to date with MOC requirements?

Please see: General Rules, Regulations and Information for All Examinations: Diplomates in MOC Who Are Not Up To Date and At Risk Of Losing Their Certification

 Will the ABD remind me when I have a MOC deadline coming up? Will they tell me if I have missed a MOC deadline?

The ABD publishes timelines for MOC activities. It is the responsibility of the individual to meet those deadlines. However, in its current website update, the ABD is exploring a just-in-time reminder email system for diplomates approaching a MOC deadline. If a diplomate enrolled in MOC is tardy in meeting a MOC requirement, the ABD will notify the individual and provide instructions about how to complete the missed requirement. In addition, the ABD 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.

 Can I complete all 10 years of my MOC requirements at one time?

No. Only the annual fee can be completed in advance. In the true spirit of MOC, which is continual learning and self-education, the modules for all the other components are spaced across the 10-year MOC cycle.

Can my institution's requirements fulfill any of my personal MOC requirements?

Yes, the Multispecialty MOC Portfolio Program exists to review and approve institutional quality improvement activities, specifically practice improvement exercises. If you have participated in such a program, you may report the activity on your MOC table. For additional information, see the Multi-Specialty MOC Portfolio Approval Program website. 

If you currently participate in an institutional survey that is similar to the Practice Improvement Patient or Peer Communication Surveys, for example those administered by a hospital or health plan, please refer to our list of the ABMS's pre-approved survey providers. If your institutional survey has been approved by the ABMS we will accept self-reporting of it for this activity. Free ABD-created and approved surveys may be found on our MOC Educational Portal

 Can my practice purchase MOC materials and share them?

There is no "sharing" of material allowed except in the case of a pre-approved patient or peer survey that is provided with an association to a hospital or university.

 What is the Disciplinary Action Notification System (DANS) and how can it affect my board certification status?

A goal of the ABD is to serve the public by monitoring adverse actions taken by state medical boards against the license of a diplomate. DANS reports inform the Board of such actions. Upon receipt, the diplomate is contacted to learn his/her description of events. Each case is then discussed at length by our License Review Committee. The large majority of cases require no action relating to the diplomate's certification. However, when a state license is suspended or revoked the committee will usually act in parallel fashion, suspending or revoking certification by the ABD. We believe it is important that physicians take responsibility for reviewing the professional actions of their colleagues, to help assure that patients are safe and receive the best possible care. See also: Candidates with Substance AbuseCertification, CME Award & Revocation and Re-Application after Revocation.

 Where can I locate the resources approved to satisfy the MOC requirements?

For a current list of the options available to fulfill the various MOC requirements, refer to the MOC Resource List within your MyMOC Table.

 What is the ABD doing to improve MOC for its diplomates?

Please see What's New in MOC

 Why is MOC so expensive?

Beyond the $150 annual fee, the cost of MOC depends to a large extent on the individual tools purchased to satisfy MOC requirements. Many of these are produced and offered by vendors who have no connection to the American Board of Dermatology, and as such, we have little input into their prices. We are always entertaining new sources to try to offer diplomates multiple options in the areas of cost and accessibility of material to satisfy MOC requirements. The ABD now offers patient and peer surveys at no cost as well as a basal cell carcinoma registry and 25 self-assessment questions. For a current list of the options available to fulfill the various MOC requirements, refer to the MOC Resource List that is available in your MyMOC Table.

Is there an inherent conflict of interest in the American Board of Dermatology setting the rules for MOC, and then creating and selling products to fulfill those requirements?

The American Board of Dermatology does not actually set the rules for MOC - they are developed, ratified and updated by the American Board of Medical Specialties. The ABD has recently begun to produce MOC products for diplomates, in order to try to offer more economical options than those that currently exist. ABD does not charge diplomates for MOC products that it develops. Diplomates have options, and are welcome to use any of the available tools to fulfill their MOC requirements provided they have been approved. Refer to the MOC Resource List within your MyMOC Table.

 What is "continuous MOC" that some of the other boards are now instituting?

Several member boards have eliminated specific "end dates" for their participating Board Certified physicians. Ongoing certification with each Member Board is contingent upon meeting their individual MOC requirements, and therefore no specific end date to certification is provided. To maintain certification, diplomates must successfully complete specialty-specific requirements throughout their ongoing MOC cycles.

However, credentialers look to board certification as an important quality marker, and the MOC program is being incorporated into that process. For credentialers who need an end date to complete primary source verification, the individual Member Boards provide an annual reverification date to ensure accurate certification status. For information regarding these Member Board dates as well as other implementation details, see the ABMS Summary Table: MOC - No End Dates

Currently in Dermatology, if a diplomate has not completed all required MOC elements by the end of a given year they are "not participating in MOC". However, at the moment, they maintain their "certification" status until the end of their current 10-year cycle. At that time, if they have not completed all other MOC requirements, they will not be allowed to sit for the next exam and, therefore, will no longer be deemed "certified" by the ABD.

Annual Fee

What is the annual MOC fee and when is it due?

This fee is $150 annually and is due before the end of each year. After 10 years of paying the fee, there will be no additional cost to take the examination. Each year, the ABD will email notification for payment of the annual $150 fee for participation in the MOC program. Payment by December 31st of each year is required in order to be "participating in MOC".

How do I make the payment online?

In your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List select the "pay" button and the system will walk you through a pay wizard similar to purchasing anything else online. A receipt will be sent to the email address you provide.

Is the $150 annual MOC fee voluntary? Can I pay it, instead, once every 10 years?

The $150 MOC annual fee is not voluntary. Diplomates must pay the MOC fee annually (deadline December 31 each year). Paying in advance is acceptable but deferring the fee to the end of the 10-year cycle is not allowed. See also FAQ: What is the annual MOC fee and when is it due? and FAQ: How do I make the payment online?

If I take the MOC exam early, will I end up paying additional years of annual MOC fees?

No. The annual MOC fee is due once the 10-year MOC cycle begins. If a diplomate is not currently in MOC, and takes and passes the examination, he or she will enter MOC after the certificate expires and will begin paying the annual fee at that time.

What happens if I don't pay my MOC annual fees?

A diplomate will be considered "not participating in MOC" if he or she has not met all MOC requirements for that year, including payment of the annual fee, by Dec 31st. For a description of the implications of this status change, see FAQ: What happens if I decide not to participate in MOC?

Professional Standing

What is needed to fulfill the Professional Standing requirement?

In order to maintain ABD certification, diplomates must hold a current, valid, and unrestricted license to practice medicine. You are required to attest 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. ABD certification may be withdrawn or suspended if a license is revoked, suspended, or surrendered. Diplomates are required to report any change in their license status immediately. In addition, adverse actions against any state license you hold will be reported to the ABD via the Disciplinary Action Notification Service (DANS). For additional information about this, see FAQ: What is the Disciplinary Action Notification System (DANS) and how can it affect my board certification status?

What is License Attestation, and when must it be completed?

You must attest annually that all your licenses to practice medicine are full and unrestricted. This attestation must occur by January 31st of each year in order to be "participating in MOC". You must also tell us annually whether you are clinically active or not. “Clinically active” is defined as any amount of direct and/or consultative patient care that has been provided in the preceding 12 months. To see how to perform the annual License Attestation, see FAQ: How do I complete the License Attestation online?

How do I complete the License Attestation online?

In your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List click in the License Attestation option for the current year and check the box in the screen that appears. That means that you have performed a virtual “raising of the hand” to attest to your medical license validity for the year and to confirm that you are clinically active. 

What if I am not clinically active?

If you check the box on your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List that you are not clinically active, you will be asked to notify the American Board of Dermatology office. Someone there will discuss the implications with you. For details, please see the ABD's Clinically Inactive Policy.

Continuous Medical Education (CME)

How many CME credits must be obtained each year?

Each year, you must attest to a minimum of 25 hours CME accrued within that year.

What kind of CME credits count for the MOC program?

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 that directly relate to your type of practice are also 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.

All CME credits must be Category 1 and accepted by one of the following:

    • Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)
    • American Osteopathic Association (AOA)

For more information about what constitutes Category 1 CME credits, see FAQ: What counts for Category 1 CME credits?

What counts for Category 1 CME credits?

For complete, up-to-date information, please see: The AMA Physician's Recognition Award and Credit System

Activity (Based on AMA Guidelines)

Category 1 Credits Awarded

Attendance-based learning activities by accredited providers

1 credit/hour of attendance;
available in 15 minute (.25 credit) increments

CME activities in journals from accredited providers

Generally 1 credit/article

CME enduring materials

Per hour of study

Published articles (lead author)

10 credits/article

Presentations at a conference

5 credits/poster;
2 credits/hour of teaching

Note: Credit may only be claimed once for repeated activities.

Specialty and subspecialty Board certification & MOC

25 credits prior to September 2010;
60 credits on or after September 2010.

Medically related advanced degree

25 credits

Participation in a residency training program/fellowship accredited by the ACGME

20 credits/year of full or part-time training

International conferences

Per hour of attendance

Other meritorious learning experiences

Determined ad hoc

The American Board of Medical Specialties recommends that one-third of each year's credits (e.g., > 8) be obtained with self-assessment activities. What exactly are self-assessment activities?

Self-assessment activities are approved for MOC self-assessment credit by the ABD. Various vendors offer such exercises, but not all are linked to CME so choose carefully! The approved programs are provided in the MOC Resource Vendor List of MyMOC.

How do I attest online for the CME credits I have received, and when must this be completed?

This is reported in your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List. It must be done by Dec 31 of each year. We suggest that in September or October you review your current CME hours to verify you have met the minimum annual requirement of 25. If not, this gives you ample time to obtain the remaining CME credits for the year.

If I earn more than the minimum number of credits required during a MOC cycle, can I carry credits forward to the next cycle?

No. Credits must be applied to the MOC cycle in the year in which they were earned.

Patient Safety

What is a Patient Safety module, and how often must one be completed?

The foundational patient safety exercise is intended to focus attention on general patient safety issues that a diplomate may confront in his or her practice, and is only required once, before entering MOC or soon thereafter. There are now several mechanisms by which this requirement may be met, including a foundational learning experience in medical school or residency. Addition resources can be found in the MOC Resource Vendor List. Patient safety exercises performed for state licensure and insurance carriers are also acceptable. Practice improvement (PI) exercises are inherently related to patient safety and completion of such an activity will satisfy the need for on-going patient safety involvement. For more details, see MOC Requirements: Patient Safety.

How do I attest that I have completed a Patient Safety module online?

This is reported in your MyMOC Table or MyMOC page. Click on the Enter button in the box to report course name and date of completion.

How do I find resources to complete this Patient Safety module requirement?

For a current list of the options available for the MOC Patient Safety requirements, refer to the MOC Resource List, available from your MyMOC Table.

Self-Assessment (SA)

What is a Periodic Self-Assessment module and how often must one be completed?

You are required to complete a total of 300 self-assessment questions over each 10-year cycle. In the spirit of continuous life-long learning, completing 30 questions every year is the recommended approach. However, our requirement is that every diplomate must complete three 100-question self-assessment modules over the course of each 10-year cycle: one by the end of year 3, a second by the end of year 6 and a third by the end of year 10, in order to be "participating in MOC." Ideally, at least 8 CME hours per year will be spent in self-assessment activities.

How do I attest that I have completed Periodic Self-Assessment questions online?

The boxes for reporting completion are located in years 3, 6 and 10 of your personal MyMOC Table or MyMOC List. You may indicate completion at any time in the first 3 years, second 3 years and last 4 years. You may indicate completion of self assessment (SA) exercises in units less than 100 credits since the various courses often consist of smaller amounts. Each box for logging SA credits has an accumulative tally. Please indicate the name of the self-assessment, the date of completion and number of question credits you are claiming.

How do I find resources to complete the Periodic Self-Assessment requirement?

For a current list of the options available for the MOC Periodic Self-Assessment requirements, refer to the MOC Resource List, available from your MyMOC Table.

How can I learn about practice gaps, so that I can choose Periodic Self-Assessment programs that will "close" practice gaps relevant to my practice?

For a list of current practice gaps, please refer to this JAMA Dermatology article: Measuring Impact of JAMA Dermatology Practice Gaps Section on Training in US Dermatology Residency Programs. 

If I earn more than the minimum number of Self-Assessments required during a MOC cycle, can I carry forward any additional self-assessments completed to the next cycle?

Within each 3 year Self-Assessment period, all credits are accepted until a total of 100 question credits have been reached. Any additional credits earned during one 3-year period cannot be applied to the next 3-year Self-Assessment period or to the next 10-year MOC cycle.

 

Practice Improvement
NOTE: The American Board of Dermatology is creating a two-year pilot period, beginning January 1, 2016, for development of focused activities targeting practice improvement. During this time no diplomate will be at risk of losing certification for not completing a practice improvement requirement. For more details, click here.

What is a Practice Improvement activity, and how often must one be completed?

Twice per 10-year cycle, you must complete an activity designed to evaluate the delivery of health care in your practice. The first activity must be accomplished within years 1 through 5 and the second activity within years 6 through 10 in order to be "participating in MOC".

The American Board of Medical Specialties has recently expanded the breadth of 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 initiating a 2-year pilot project during which time it will expand the range of practice improvement offerings while simplifying and streamlining the more focused offerings. During this period, no diplomate will lose certification for not completing an otherwise required practice improvement activity.

The American Board of Dermatology and many dermatology organizations are actively engaged in creating focused Practice Improvement Activities that we hope will be useful and relatively easy to perform by busy dermatologists in private practice.

In addition, as of January 1, 2015 both the Patient Communication Survey and Peer Communication Survey are OPTIONAL. A survey may be used to satisfy one of the two Practice Improvement requirements per 10-year cycle. However, only one survey may be used to complete the requirements in each 10-year MOC cycle (i.e., a traditional practice improvement activity must also be completed instead of two surveys).

For additional information about traditional practice assessment/quality improvement activities, please read QI Fundamentals - the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) Cycle. 

Dermatopathologists not engaged in patient care may be able to use a program developed by the American Society of Dermatopathology (ASDP). The ASDP has 3 self-assessment exercises, one that is online and two others that are presented at their annual meeting, as well as a Practice Assessment exercise that is presented at their annual meeting. We will work with Diplomates who primarily are engaged in regulatory or other functions to design programs meaningful to their spheres of expertise.

Is it true that the Patient Communication Survey and Peer Communication Survey are no longer required?

That is correct. The surveys may each now be used to partially fulfill the Practice Improvement requirement - one completed survey may count for credit in a 10-year cycle.

How many Patient Communication Surveys must be sent out to qualify?

If you use the free ABD survey, it is recommended that 40 patient emails be provided and sent in order to receive the requisite 20 patient survey responses.

How many Peer Communication Surveys must be sent out to qualify, and to whom must they go?

If using the ABD survey, it is recommended that 15-20 email addresses be provided and sent in order to receive the requisite 12 peer survey responses. At least six (6) of the responses must be from physicians. They can be sent to anyone with whom the physician communicates about patients; there are no more specific requirements.

Can my institution's requirements fulfill any of my personal practice improvement MOC requirements?

Yes, the Multispecialty MOC Portfolio Program exists to review and approve institutional practice improvement exercises. If you have participated in such a program, you may report the activity on your MyMOC table. For additional information, see the Multi-Specialty MOC Portfolio Approval Program website. 

If you currently participate in an institutional survey that is similar to the MOC Patient or Peer Communication Surveys, for example those administered by a hospital or health plan, please refer to our list of the ABMS's pre-approved survey providers. If your institutional survey has been approved by the ABMS we will accept self-reporting of it for this activity. However, please note that while most large institutions have acceptable patient survey instruments, this is often not the case for peer feedback. Peer credentialing tools are not acceptable. Free ABD-created and approved surveys may be found on our MOC Educational Portal

Can my practice purchase MOC materials and share them?

There is no “sharing” of material allowed except in the case of a pre-approved patient or peer survey that is provided through the association with a hospital or university.

Can a group of dermatologists participate together in a practice improvement activity and complete it together?

This is acceptable as long as there is documentation that each person has participated, and the reporting is performed individually.

How do I find resources to complete this Practice Improvement requirement?

For a current list of the options available to fulfill the MOC Practice Improvement Activity requirement, refer to the MOC Resource List, available from your MyMOC Table.

How do I attest online that I have completed a Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement Activity?

The boxes for reporting completion are located in your MyMOC Table or MyMOC List in years 1-5 and 6-10 of the 10-year cycle. You may indicate completion at any time in the first 5 years for the first requirement and again within the second 5 years for the second requirement. Please indicate the name of the sponsor and date of completion.


MOC Exam
NOTE: This summer, the ABD surveyed diplomates to solicit their input regarding optimal exam content, structure and delivery methods.  For more details, click here

What does the MOC examination consist of, and how long does it take to complete?

The examination consists of a required 100-question general dermatology module and one 50-question module selected from the following choices: medical dermatology, surgical dermatology, pediatric dermatology, or dermatopathology. The examination is clinically-oriented and is representative of the challenges presented by individual patients seen in the clinical practice of dermatology; it does not replicate the original certifying examination. The general dermatology module consists primarily of images with the accompanying question, "The most likely diagnosis is." Occasional questions will have a line of clinical information intended as a guide to the correct diagnosis. A list of 150 conditions from which the image questions will be drawn is available in your profile after you logon to the ABD website. For the self-selected 50 question modules, 100 questions (without the answers) are posted in the diplomate-restricted portion of the website for study as well. The ABD now has in place "in sync" examinations for the Pediatric Dermatology and Dermatopathology Subspecialty examinations, which can be taken at the same time you take the regular MOC test. For more details about examination content, refer to the "MOC Question Pool" in the diplomate-restricted portion of the website.

Since 2011, the examination has been given once a year at the Pearson VUE testing centers located in each state or by remote proctoring technology. The amount of time it takes to complete the examination varies from person to person; however, you must finish the examination within the 3 hour allotted time. For more details about taking the exam, see FAQ: When can I apply to take the MOC exam? and FAQ: How do I apply to take the MOC exam?

Do I need to have all of my MOC requirements complete prior to applying for the MOC exam?

No. Diplomates participating in the MOC program may apply for and take the MOC exam any time during years 3-10 of their MOC cycle. However, you must be current in all of your MOC requirements, wherever you are in your 10-year MOC cycle, in order to take the MOC exam.

 When can I apply to take the MOC exam?

Once per 10-year cycle, you must take and pass a closed-book proctored examination administered by the ABD. The examination is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers near your home or office. As of 2012, the examination can be taken anytime during years 3-10 of the MOC cycle. The intent of this range is to reduce examination pressure and to allow diplomates more flexibility in deciding the optimal time to take the test. Once you have entered MOC, you may take the closed-book proctored examination any time beginning in year 3 of the MOC cycle, and you must pass the examination by year 10 in order to remain certified. However, if you take and pass the examination early, no more than 12 years may elapse before taking and passing the examination again.

 Can I take the MOC exam early?

Diplomates participating in the MOC program may apply for and take the MOC exam anytime during years 3-10 of their MOC cycle. For more details, see FAQ: When can I apply to take the MOC examination?

How do I apply to take the MOC exam?

When logged into the restricted portion of the ABD website, an option entitled "Application Forms to Register for Examinations" appears on your list of menu options. Click on the Applications Forms link, complete the required fields and submit your application to the ABD. To schedule the exam after successfully completing the application process, see FAQ: After being declared admissible, how do I schedule my examination?

 After being declared admissible, how do I schedule my examination?

Once you are declared admissible, you will receive an email from the ABD (generally 2-3 months before the exam) containing specific instructions on how to schedule your examination with Pearson VUE. You may register online or you may call Pearson VUE customer service. To find more information about Pearson VUE, including test center locations, click here.

Where are the Pearson VUE test center locations?

The MOC exam is offered at Pearson VUE testing centers located throughout the US, US territories, and Canada, as well as all over the world. You can find more information about Pearson VUE, including test center locations, on their website.

How do you recommend I study for the MOC examination?

The majority of the questions come from current dermatology textbooks and the current and classic dermatologic literature. The questions ask for the application of basic dermatologic knowledge, applied in a clinical focus. For more details about examination content see FAQ: What does the MOC examination consist of, and how long does it take to complete?

Do I receive CME credit for completing the examination?

Diplomates who successfully complete the examination will receive 60 AMA PRA Category I CME credits, and the ABD will automatically waive the CME requirement in the following year on your personal Diplomate MOC Table. The ABD has contracted with the AMA to provide the credits. You will automatically receive the 60-hour credit at no cost to you.

When will I get results?

Pass/fail results will be posted online in 6-8 weeks in the Exam History within your secure ABD profile. (This tab appears in the Diplomate section of our website, after you have logged in). You will also be notified by email. The actual certificates will be sent to you by U.S. mail right before your current certificate expires.

Why does it take so long to get results from a computer-based exam?

Prior to the release of scores, the examination results go through extensive statistical analysis. This is followed by a quality assurance process to verify the integrity of the scores, the scoring procedures, and the results that are provided on your report.

When and why did the MOC exam change from an open book exam to a proctored computer-based exam?

In 2009, in response to requirements set forth by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the ABD transitioned to a closed-book, computer-based exam. The pass rate for the closed-book exam, in the vicinity of 95%, is similar to that of the open-book exam.

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)
abderm@hfhs.org

Our Mission

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