ABS MOC Requirements

  • The requirements of the ABS MOC Program run in 3-year cycles (Jan. 1-Dec. 31). After each 3-year cycle, diplomates report on these requirements by completing a brief online form, the MOC Status Form.
  • A secure MOC (recertification) exam is also required at 10-year intervals. A full exam application is required—this is separate from the reporting required after each 3-year cycle.
  • Once enrolled in MOC, diplomates must be meeting MOC requirements to certify or recertify in any ABS specialty. For diplomates with multiple ABS certificates, the secure MOC exam is the only requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.
  • Surgeons who are clinically inactive or no longer operating may still participate in MOC.
    For quick reference, print our one-page MOC Requirements Summary (pdf).


Professional Standing - Part 1
  • Medical License
    Valid, full and unrestricted (U.S. or Canada). Diplomates must immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Hospital/Surgical Center Privileges
    If clinically active. If you are clinically inactive or do not otherwise hold privileges, you must provide an explanation on the MOC Status Form.
  • Professional References
    Contact information for the chief of surgery and chair of credentials at the institution where most work is performed, to be entered on the MOC Status Form. Completed reference forms are also required when applying for the 10-year secure exam.

    If you are clinically inactive or no longer operating, contact information for two supervisors or peers knowledgeable about your current activities is required.

Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment - Part 2
  • Continuing Medical Education (CME)
    Completion of 90 credits of Category 1 CME relevant to your practice over a 3-year MOC cycle. Category 1 CME activities are formal educational experiences such as seminars and skills courses.
  • Self-Assessment
    At least 60 of the 90 CME credits must include self-assessment—a written or electronic question-and-answer exercise that assesses your understanding of the material in the CME program. A score of 75% or higher must be required on the activity; however there is no minimum number of questions required and repeated attempts are allowed.

    The ABS will automatically waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment for achieving ABS certification or recertification. This includes the one that enrolls you in MOC—it counts toward your first three-year cycle. See our Part 2 page for details and resources.

Cognitive Expertise - Part 3
  • Secure Examination
    Successful completion of a secure MOC (recertification) exam in the specialty, which may first be taken 3 years before certificate expiration.

    A full exam application is required, including a 12-month operative log, reference forms, and CME documentation. Surgeons who no longer operate may submit alternative materials. Diplomates must be in compliance with MOC to be eligible to apply. For diplomates who hold multiple ABS certificates, this is the only requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.

Evaluating Performance in Practice - Part 4
  • Practice Assessment
    Ongoing participation in a local, regional or national outcomes registry or quality assessment program relevant to your practice, either individually or through your institution.

    When completing the MOC Status Form after a 3-year cycle, you will describe how you are meeting this requirement—no data is collected. See our MOC Part 4 page for more details and resources.

  • Re-entry to MOC: Diplomates who do not fulfill MOC requirements will be reported as Not Meeting MOC Requirements and cannot certify or recertify in any ABS specialty until ABS MOC re-entry requirements are met.

MOC Timeline

  • A personalized MOC Timeline is available for diplomates enrolled in MOC to help you track your participation. Diplomates who recertify "early" (prior to their certificate's final year of validity) will have an extended timeline with additional years in MOC.
  • MOC three-year cycles run Jan. 1-Dec. 31. If you are not yet in MOC, your first MOC cycle will begin the Jan. 1 following the academic year in which you passed the exam that enrolls you in MOC.

Example of MOC Timeline
Year Requirement
Year 0
  • Diplomate successfully certifies or recertifies. Diplomates are enrolled in MOC upon certification or recertification in any specialty after July 2005.
MOC Year 1
  • MOC begins Jan. 1 following the academic year in which the diplomate certified/recertified. Example: If you certified in October 2015, MOC starts as of Jan. 1, 2017.
  • CME, ongoing practice assessment
MOC Year 2
  • CME, ongoing practice assessment
MOC Year 3
  • CME, ongoing practice assessment
  • At end of year (Dec. 31), diplomate completes online form regarding Parts 1, 2 and 4 of MOC. Form must be submitted by March 1.
MOC Years 4-6
  • Same as years 1-3
MOC Years 7-9
  • Same as years 1-3
MOC Years 8-10
  • Secure examination (exam application required)

Multiple Certificates

  • Diplomates with multiple ABS certificates do not need to repeat Parts 2 and 4 for each certificate; these requirements may be fulfilled in whichever areas best reflect your practice. Only the secure MOC (recertification) exam (Part 3) must be completed for each certificate you hold. You will report to the ABS every 3 years according to the timeline of your enrollment in the ABS MOC Program. The reporting does not have to be repeated for other ABS certificates.
  • Diplomates with certificates from other ABMS boards or RCPSC must still report to the ABS every 3 years. Activities completed for the MOC programs of other boards or RCPSC that meet ABS requirements may be listed on the ABS' online form for Parts 2 and 4. In addition, if you achieved certification or recertification by another ABMS board during a three-year cycle, you may waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment for that cycle. Please note that other ABMS boards may have different MOC requirements; there is no automatic reciprocity among boards.

    The RCPSC has recognized ABS MOC as equivalent to its MOC program. ABS diplomates who belong to the RCPSC may use the ABS MOC Program to maintain their RCPSC membership.

Other Situations

  • Fellowships: Diplomates in a fellowship are exempt from Part 2 and Part 4 requirements during their time in training. To qualify for this waiver, the fellowship must be at least 12 months in duration and accredited by the ACGME or a surgical organization with a formal accreditation process (e.g., SSO, ASTS, ACS, Fellowship Council, etc.). Details about the fellowship must be provided on the MOC Status Form required after each 3-year cycle.

    The requirements for Parts 2 and 4 must be fulfilled for the remainder of the 3-year cycle. CME and self-assessments credits will be prorated based on the remaining years or months in the cycle.

  • Clinically Inactive: Diplomates who no longer see patients may still participate in MOC—see Clinically Inactive Policy. Diplomates who still see patients but no longer operate may participate in MOC by fulfilling the requirements in ways relevant to their current activities.

  • Not Enrolled: Diplomates who are not enrolled in MOC may enroll by taking and passing an MOC (recertification) exam. All application requirements for the exam must be met. Diplomates with time-unlimited certificates will not have their certificate status affected by entering MOC.

Refer also to our MOC Program FAQs page. For specific inquiries, please contact the MOC coordinator.

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