August 8, 2017
Over the next few days, the American Board of Surgery (ABS) will be sending a survey by email to all current diplomates regarding changes to our program of lifelong learning and continuous board certification, currently known as Maintenance of Certification (MOC). The survey focuses specifically on potential alternatives to the traditional General Surgery MOC (Recertification) Exam. As announced on July 7, the ABS plans to offer alternatives to this exam in 2018. While the survey primarily pertains to the assessment of general surgery knowledge and judgment, the information gathered will also be helpful for the development of future alternative assessments in other ABS specialties.
The current exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions covering the breadth of general surgery, and must be taken every 10 years at a secure testing center. The ABS envisions developing an alternate program with intermittent, practice-related modular assessment options. This would allow diplomates to choose modules that are more directly related to their area(s) of practice as an alternative to the 10-year exam. These modules would also have lower stakes than the current exam (i.e., poor performance on any one module would not negatively impact certification status). In addition, diplomates may have access to outside materials (open-book, internet access).
The short survey asks questions about the potential content to be covered in the new program, as well as format and frequency. Diplomates should note that while the ABS will provide alternative assessments starting in 2018, some of the proposed options may take a few years to fully develop. The ABS encourages all diplomates to respond to assist us in shaping this new program.