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Published 5/1/2012


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

MYTH: Orthopaedists who are still practicing but no longer perform surgery cannot take part in the MOC process.

FACT: Orthopaedists with time-limited certificates (meaning certificates issued in or after 1986) who no longer perform surgery are required to participate in MOC to maintain their board certification, according to ABOS Executive Director Shepard R. Hurwitz, MD.

Practicing orthopaedists who no longer perform surgery must undergo the same credentialing process as those who do perform surgery, including the following:

  • Documenting continuing medical education and self-assessment examination credits
  • Taking a secure examination
  • Submitting a case list of consecutive new patients evaluated and treated in their practice

“The number of cases to be submitted and documented is currently set at 30 for this category of orthopaedist,” said Dr. Hurwitz.

“If a diplomate resumes performing surgery,” he added, “he or she must notify the ABOS to maintain certification.”

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, registering with the ABOS to participate in MOC has definite benefits. You may decide to take the recertifying exam in the future, and you are under no obligation to complete the process with a recertifying exam.

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.