Published 6/1/2012


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

MYTH: MOC doesn’t apply to some orthopaedic surgeons.

FACT: If you have a time limit on your board certification, you need to be aware of your MOC requirements and deadlines and should be working toward meeting them, according to ABOS Executive Director Shepard R. Hurwitz, MD.

“MOC is a continuing process that requires your ongoing participation and attention,” said Dr. Hurwitz. “No matter which year your certification expires, you should be planning your MOC participation and engaging in continuing medical education (CME) and self-assessment activities.”

For example, because diplomates must acquire CME and self-assessment examination (SAE) credits in two 3-year cycles prior to applying for the cognitive examination, orthopaedic surgeons whose certificates expire in 2021 should already be acquiring CME and SAE credits as part of the first 3-year cycle.

“Even orthopaedists with lifetime certificates may be required by their hospital or state to participate in the MOC process as a condition of licensure or credentialing,” added Dr. Hurwitz.

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

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.

Here’s why: Beginning in August 2012, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the ABOS will post the names of physicians who have registered to participate in MOC. This information will be available to the public, to hospital administrators, and to state officials. If MOC participation is required as a condition of licensure or credentialing, your name should be on that list.

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.