The American Board of Surgery (ABS), consisting of directors representing both academic and community surgery, recently reaffirmed our commitment to the ABS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program, and defined a set of guiding principles for the program's continued development. We have also established steps for soliciting diplomates' feedback to inform future decisions regarding our MOC program.
ABS Mission Statement
The American Board of Surgery serves the public and the specialty of surgery by providing leadership in surgical education and practice, by promoting excellence through rigorous evaluation and examination, and by promoting the highest standards for professionalism, lifelong learning, and the continuous certification of surgeons in practice.
In keeping with our mission, we have approved the following guiding principles:
ABS Guiding Principles for Maintenance of Certification
The ABS is an organization of peers founded to set professional and educational standards. It is not a membership organization, but rather an organization whose primary constituencies are the public, the specialty of surgery, and the patients it serves.
ABS certification and MOC should be a credible, peer group-driven process with the goal of promoting excellence in practice based on ongoing education, assessment, and performance.
The ABS believes that board certification and MOC represent a level of achievement beyond medical licensure, with knowledge and skills to be documented on an ongoing basis.
The ABS endorses the concept of MOC for diplomates to include documentation of the following:
Part 1 - Professional Standing
Part 2 - Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Part 3 - Cognitive Expertise
Part 4 - Evaluation of Performance in Practice
The ABS is committed to making the MOC process as efficient and affordable as possible.
The ABS will strive to demonstrate the value of our MOC program to our stakeholders.
The ultimate goal of the ABS MOC Program is to help diplomates deliver high-quality patient care.
Rationale for MOC
Current MOC Requirements
Full and unrestricted medical license
Hospital or surgical center privileges, if clinically active
90 credits of relevant Cat. 1 CME over 3 years
60 of the 90 CME credits to include self-assessment - a test or quiz on the material
Participation in a local, regional or national patient outcomes registry or quality assessment program
ABS MOC establishes a national, surgeon-defined program for maintaining knowledge and skill in practice. Given the rapidly increasing and changing knowledge base required for contemporary surgical care, we believe more continuous learning and assessment are in the best of interest of the public and the specialty.
Participation in the ABS MOC Program documents to the public and the medical community the ongoing commitment of surgeons to lifelong learning and quality patient care. We are proud to note that 92% of diplomates are currently meeting the requirements of the ABS MOC Program.
The ABS is continually evaluating our MOC program in response to input from surgical societies as well as individual surgeons. ABS directors are elected from 26 different surgical organizations, while our component board and advisory council members are elected from an additional 13. In addition, the ABS includes three at-large directors and one public member. They have conveyed the views of these groups and the community of surgery regarding MOC.
We recognize that the ABS MOC Program, and in particular the 10-year secure exam, needs to be more convenient and more reflective of a surgeon's practice. Feedback from our diplomates is essential to this effort. In the coming weeks, an online survey will be sent via email to a cross-section of ABS diplomates. In addition, we will be participating in the Rural Surgeons Forum at the American College of Surgeons' Clinical Congress in Washington, D.C., on October 18. We also invite feedback via email from diplomates with suggestions on how the ABS MOC Program can be improved.
Multiple surveys have shown that the American public places great trust in board certification and Maintenance of Certification. The ABS is committed to an MOC program that is meaningful and feasible for all of our 30,000 diplomates, while ensuring that ABS certification remains a recognized, surgeon-defined standard of quality. Any changes to the ABS MOC Program will be introduced in a systematic way to allow time for transition. We look forward to input from diplomates as we seek to further develop an MOC program that meets the needs of both surgeons and the public.
About the ABS
The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of surgical training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. They must then maintain their board certification through ongoing learning and practice improvement activities.
The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.