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Published 7/1/2012


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

MYTH: I took the cognitive examination recently, so I don’t need to plan for MOC for a while.

FACT: Not so, according to Shepard R. Hurwitz, MD, ABOS executive director.

“MOC requires your ongoing participation and attention; it’s not simply about taking a recertification examination,” Dr. Hurwitz said.

Maintaining board certification requires diplomates to participate in 10-year MOC cycles that involve the following four

  • Evidence of professional standing
  • Evidence of life-long learning and self-assessment
  • Evidence of cognitive expertise
  • Evidence of performance in practice

“You should be planning your MOC participation and engaging in continuing medical education (CME) and self-assessment activities regardless of how recently you took the recertification examination or when your certification expires,” said Dr. Hurwitz.

“For example,” he added, “you must acquire CME credits, including credits from scored and recorded self-assessment examinations (SAE) in two 3-year cycles prior to applying for the cognitive examination. Therefore, if your certificate expires in 2019, you should already be acquiring CME and SAE credits as part of your first 3-year cycle.”

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. Because you are under no obligation to complete the process with a recertifying exam, you can 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 (Member log in required) 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