ABS MOC Requirements

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About ABS MOC
  • The requirements of the ABS MOC Program run in three-year cycles (Jan. 1-Dec. 31). After each cycle, diplomates report on their MOC activities by completing a brief online form, the MOC Status Form. A secure exam is also required at 10-year intervals.
  • Once enrolled, diplomates must be in compliance with MOC to certify or recertify in any ABS specialty. For diplomates with multiple ABS certificates, the secure exam (Part 3) is the only MOC requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.
  • MOC is an evolving process, meant to document a surgeon's commitment to lifelong learning and practice improvement. The ABS intends for MOC to be as flexible as possible so surgeons can participate in ways most compatible with their practice.
  • Calendar Year: The ABS MOC Program has moved to the calendar year. MOC three-year cycles now run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. However CME completed based on the former cycle of July 1-June 30 may still be used. If you are in MOC, your MOC Timeline has been shifted six months ahead to Jan. 1. 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.
  • For easy reference, print this one-page MOC Summary (pdf). Or for a broader overview, view our MOC Slide Presentation (pdf).

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Requirements
MOC PartABS Requirement
Part 1 -
Professional Standing
  • Medical license: Valid, full and unrestricted medical license (U.S. or Canada).
    Diplomates must immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold. Diplomates outside the U.S./Canada must maintain a full and unrestricted license in the country where they practice.
  • Hospital/surgical center privileges: In the specialty, if clinically active.
    If you are clinically inactive (see below) 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.
    If you are clinically inactive, contact information for two supervisors or peers knowledgeable about your current activities is required.
  • Be an ABS diplomate in good standing. Diplomates with active sanctions on their certificate cannot participate in the ABS MOC Program.
Part 2 - Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
  • CME: Completion of 90 hours of Category I CME relevant to your practice over a three-year MOC cycle. Category I CME activities are formal educational experiences such as seminars, grand rounds, and skills courses.
  • Self-assessment: As of 2012, at least 60 (previously 30) of the 90 CME hours 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.
  • Certification credit: The ABS will waive 60 hours 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 MOC Part 2 page for more details and resources.
Part 3 - Cognitive Expertise
  • Secure examination: Successful completion of a secure MOC (recertification) exam in the specialty, which may first be taken three years before certificate expiration. A full exam application is required, including a 12-month operative log, reference forms, and CME documentation. Diplomates must be in compliance with MOC to apply.
    MOC exams are offered annually (exam dates). Application and exam fees are required (exam fees); these are the only fees charged for MOC. For diplomates who hold multiple ABS certificates, this is the only requirement that must be repeated for each certificate.
Part 4 - Evaluation of Performance in Practice
  • Practice assessment: Ongoing participation in a local, regional or national outcomes registry or quality assessment program, either individually or through your institution.
    When completing the MOC Status Form (next section), you will describe how you are meeting this requirement—operative data is not required. See our MOC Part 4 page for more details and resources.

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Three-Year Reporting - MOC Status Form
  • At the end of a three-year cycle (Dec. 31), you will be contacted and asked to complete the MOC Status Form, a brief online form, for Parts 1, 2 and 4. The form must be submitted by March 1.
  • Make sure we can reach you! Keep your contact information up to date through My Records/My Account.
  • The form will be posted on your MOC Timeline. You will be asked to:
  • Provide information about your state medical license.
  • Indicate whether you completed a fellowship in the last three years, and if so, provide information about your training.
  • List where you hold or held any type of privileges during the three-year cycle (or explain your lack of privileges, e.g., you are clinically inactive).
  • Provide contact information for chief of surgery and chair of credentials/privileges at the institution where you performed most of your work.
  • List your Category I CME activities from the past three years and indicate which ones included self-assessment. (You may also transfer CME data from the ACS or SAGES.)
  • Indicate or describe the outcomes registry or quality assessment activity you are participating in for Part 4 (individually or through your institution). No operative data or evidence of participation is required unless requested.
  • At the conclusion of the form, attest to the accuracy of the information provided and acknowledge the ABS may contact you or the institutions involved to verify this information.
  • Once you submit the MOC Status Form, no further action is required unless you are contacted by the ABS. You will receive an e-mail confirmation that your form has been received.
  • MOC Audit: The ABS audits a percentage of forms each year to verify the information entered. If you are selected for audit, you will be contacted and asked to submit documentation of the information in your form (e.g., copy of medical license, CME certificates, etc.). Once your documentation is received and approved, you will be in compliance with MOC.
  • Note: If you are applying for an MOC exam the same year your MOC Status Form is due, the MOC Status Form must still be submitted.

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Compliance and Re-entry to MOC
  • Diplomates who do not submit the MOC Status Form when required, fail to respond to an audit of their MOC form, or otherwise do not meet MOC requirements are considered not in compliance with MOC and will be reported as "Not Meeting MOC Requirements." They also cannot certify or recertify in any ABS specialty until MOC re-entry requirements are met. See our ABS MOC Re-entry Policy for details on re-entering MOC.
  • Diplomates who do not participate in MOC will be reported as "Not Meeting MOC Requirements" and cannot certify or recertify in any ABS specialty until MOC re-entry requirements are fulfilled.

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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 Year = Jan. 1-Dec. 31
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 the Jan. 1 following the academic year in which the diplomate certified/recertified
  • 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 (full application required)

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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 MOC exam (Part 3) must be completed for each certificate you hold. You will report to the ABS every three 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 three 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. Please note 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 and practice in the U.S. may use the ABS MOC Program to maintain their RCPSC membership.

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Other Situations
  • Fellowships: For diplomates who complete a fellowship during a three-year cycle, the ABS will waive Part 2 and Part 4 requirements for the year(s) in which you were enrolled in fellowship training. Details about the fellowship must be entered into the MOC form. Fellowships must be accredited by the ACGME or a surgical organization with a formal accreditation process (e.g., SSO, ACS, Fellowship Council), and be at least 27 weeks (per year) in duration.
  • Diplomates must still meet Part 2 and Part 4 requirements for any non-fellowship years in the three-year cycle. The CME required for Part 2 will be prorated (i.e., 60 hours with 40 including self-assessment for two years remaining; 30 hours with 20 including self-assessment for one year remaining).
  • Clinically Inactive/Retired: Diplomates who are no longer in active practice but wish to participate in MOC must still complete the online form at three-year intervals and should provide details about their status at that time. For Part 1, you must maintain a full and unrestricted medical license and submit as references the names of two supervisors or peers familiar with your current situation. Parts 2 and 3 of MOC must also be fulfilled, but not Part 4, practice assessment. See also Clinically Inactive Policy.
  • Not Yet Enrolled/Unlimited Certificates: Diplomates who are not yet enrolled or have a time-unlimited certificate may enroll in MOC 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 Q & A page. For specific inquiries, please contact the MOC coordinator.

Updated: November 2014

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