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Published 8/1/2012


In this ongoing feature, AAOS Now explores common misconceptions about the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery’s (ABOS) Maintenance of Certification® (MOC) process.

MYTH: MOC is solely an initiative of the ABOS.

FACT: Not true, according to Shepard R. Hurwitz, MD, ABOS executive director. The ABOS instituted MOC as a response to a mandate from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), of which the ABOS is a member.

“The mandate was to change recertification to a process that had certain elements of what is now called ‘maintenance of certification,’” said Dr. Hurwitz.

It’s important to note that this was not a one-sided process created by the ABOS without input from the fellowship of the Academy, he emphasized.

“MOC was developed by orthopaedic surgeons, for orthopaedic surgeons,” said Dr. Hurwitz.

According to Dr. Hurwitz, the shift from a single certification examination to the MOC process was made to show the public—including patients, payers, hospitals, health systems, and regulators—that certification is not static, but an ongoing process of both knowledge- and skill-based education that improves quality and patient care.

Outside stakeholders see MOC as a quality improvement process, he said.

“The main buy-in has been from the public sector, from groups such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,” noted Dr. Hurwitz.

“The private sector—private payers, hospitals, the Joint Commission, and other groups—are beginning to use MOC participation as a marker that an individual physician or surgeon has taken it upon himself or herself to maintain a knowledge base and a skill set, and to keep current with practice changes, including changes in health delivery and systems,” he added.

Don’t forget to register for MOC
If you have a time-limited certificate, no matter when it expires, you should be somewhere in the 10-year MOC cycle—and you should be registered as a participant in MOC.

Even if you have a lifetime certificate, you may register with the ABOS to participate in MOC. Lifetime certificate holders are under no obligation to complete the process with a recertifying exam; therefore, these diplomates may decide whether to take the recertifying exam in the future.

Registering is easy. Visit the ABOS online at www.abos.org and click on the “How to Sign up for MOC” icon at the top of the screen. Follow the prompts to register as an MOC participant.

Use the Learning Portfolio to manage MOC
The Learning Portfolio, a new member benefit from the Academy, provides an effective way to track your progress online as you fulfill MOC requirements. Based on your preferences, the Learning Portfolio helps you track CME credits earned through Academy programs, find a vast selection of educational courses and products offering CME credits, and receive alerts regarding your CME status.

Visit the Learning Portfolio at www.aaos.org/portfolio to see exactly where you are in your 10-year cycle and to find out which MOC deadlines are approaching.

If you have questions about the Learning Portfolio, contact the Academy’s member services department at member@aaos.org or call 847-384-4259, Monday-Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., CST.

Have questions about MOC?
No matter what you hear about MOC, the ABOS is the only official source of information. If you have a question, be sure to contact the ABOS—either by phone at 919-929-7103 or online at