Published 3/1/2003
Jennie McKee

How to avoid an ‘MOC meltdown’

Tips for managing the Maintenance of Certification™ process

Consider this scenario: One day next fall, you have lunch with a colleague who, like you, plans to take the Maintenance of Certification™ (MOC) cognitive examination in 2011. Your colleague, whose board certification expires in 2011, as yours does, mentions that he’s glad he submitted proof of his continuing medical education (CME) credits—including credits from scored and recorded self-assessment examinations—to the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS) well in advance of the Dec. 15, 2009, deadline.

You shift uncomfortably in your seat. Although you meant to keep up with your MOC deadlines, you now realize that you may not have enough CME credits by the Dec. 15, 2009, deadline. After lunch, you immediately go online searching for ways to earn the CME credits that you will need, trying to fit them into your busy schedule.

If a similar “MOC meltdown” could happen to you in the future, consider taking advantage of the tools and resources that can help you navigate the process successfully. AAOS Now asked ABOS President John G. Seiler III, MD, for tips on how to stay informed about MOC, track CME and self-assessment credits, and meet MOC requirements and deadlines.

AAOS Now: What are some MOC basics that every orthopaedist should know?

Dr. Seiler: To manage the MOC process effectively, you must first understand its major principles and the philosophy behind it. In brief, the MOC process evaluates applicants on four components on a continuing basis: evidence of professional standing; commitment to life-long learning and self-assessment; evidence of cognitive knowledge; and evidence of performance in practice.

MOC requires applicants whose board certification expires in 2010 – 2016 to obtain 120 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits™ in one 3-year cycle prior to taking the cognitive examination. Those whose certification will expire in 2017 and beyond must obtain 120 AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits in two consecutive 3-year cycles, totalling 240 credits over 6 years, before taking the secure cognitive examination.

Applicants must submit proof of having obtained 20 credits from scored and recorded self-assessment examinations as part of the total 120 CME credits required for each 3-year cycle.

AAOS Now: How can fellows stay informed about MOC—and how can they find details about the requirements and deadlines that apply to them?

Dr. Seiler: It’s imperative to read all communications sent by the ABOS. In addition, you can obtain information by going online to www.abos.org or calling the ABOS at (919) 929-7103. If your address changes, be sure to call the Board office in Chapel Hill to update your information so you don’t miss any communications.

The ABOS Web site has a tool that allows you to find the requirements and deadlines that apply to you, which are based on the year your certification expires. To find your “MOC timeline,” click on the “Diplomates” tab and select the year your certification will expire from the drop-down menu. You will be taken to a printable graphic that shows all of your requirements and deadlines.

Other good sources of information include articles about MOC published in AAOS Now as well as other publications. Be sure to read “Maintenance of Certification for Orthopaedic Surgeons” by Marybeth Ezaki, MD, and Randall E. Marcus, MD, in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery-American (JBJS).

AAOS Now: What’s the next MOC deadline?

Dr. Seiler: Those whose certification expires in 2010, 2011, or 2012 who wish to take the cognitive examination in 2010 must submit an examination application and application fee via www.abos.org by May 1, 2009. You will not be allowed to complete an application if you did not meet the Dec. 15, 2008, deadline for reporting CME and self-assessment credits and submitting your case list.

AAOS Now: What advice do you have about acquiring CME and self-assessment examination credits?

Dr. Seiler: Don’t wait until the last minute to acquire the credits you need. Instead, obtain AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits relevant to orthopaedics from reliable sources on a regular basis.

The AAOS, JBJS, and orthopaedic specialty societies provide a variety of ways for you to obtain AMA PRA Category 1 CME Credits. Some of the many resources available include surgical skills courses and self-study resources that allow you to earn CME credits without leaving home. Be sure to distinguish the products that meet the need for CME requirements and those that are approved for scored and recorded self-assessment examination credits.

Editor’s Note: For more information about AAOS products and courses, visit www.aaos.org and click on the “Physician Education” tab.

AAOS Now: What resources can you suggest for keeping track of CME and SAE credits?

Dr. Seiler: Take advantage of the free transcript service offered by the AAOS (www.aaos.org/transcript), which automatically logs any CME credits earned through Academy-sponsored courses, multimedia programs, and exams. This resource also allows you to add information about any CME earned from other sources, including orthopaedic specialty societies that do not yet participate in the unified transcript program. Be sure to retain all documentation from any organization that has sponsored your CME activities.

Remember that the transcript service lists the maximum number of credits for which an activity qualifies. If you did not earn the maximum number of credits, you must access your transcript and insert the number of credits that you actually earned for each activity.

Help from the AAOS
According to Tony Rankin, MD, past president of the AAOS, the Academy has several initiatives to help orthopaedists with MOC. “The Joint AAOS/ABOS Task Force on MOC meets on a regular basis to address issues related to MOC. It plans ways to provide resources to aid diplomates during the MOC process,” said Dr. Rankin. “In addition, the AAOS publishes articles about MOC on a regular basis in AAOS Now and offers MOC resources at the AAOS Annual Meeting, including a kiosk in the AAOS Resource Center. The ABOS also staffs a booth and presents forums and/or symposia at the AAOS Annual Meeting.”

Jennie McKee is a staff writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at mckee@aaos.org