Hand Surgery MOC Exam

  • The Hand Surgery MOC (Recertification) Examination is offered annually over a 2-week window by the ABS in conjunction with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery through Prometric testing services (www.prometric.com/hse). A diplomate may enter the exam process only through one certifying board and may not apply to a different board for additional exam opportunities.
  • The exam consists of approximately 175 multiple-choice questions designed to assess a surgeon's cognitive knowledge and clinical judgment. It lasts approximately four hours and is administered in four 60-minute sessions, with 15 minutes of total break time allotted for use between sessions. See also the exam content outline (pdf).
  • The exam is developed each year by active surgeons in community and academic practice. Results are posted approximately 10 to 12 weeks after the exam; you will be notified by email when they are available.
  • Next Exam: Aug. 29-Sept. 11, 2018

When to Take Exam

  • ABS certificates expire on Dec. 31. Diplomates are eligible to take an MOC exam starting 3 years before their certificate's expiration; this includes the final year of certificate validity. Eligible diplomates will be contacted by mail and email when they are able to register for an MOC exam.
  • Surgeons who no longer operate may still register for the exam. Surgeons with lapsed certificates should refer to our Lapsed Certificate Policy. Surgeons on active military duty who may encounter difficulty taking the exam should notify the ABS as soon as possible.

General Requirements

To be eligible for this exam, diplomates must:

  • Certification/MOC: Be certified by the ABS in surgery of the hand. Certification may not be revoked. Current certification in general surgery is not required. Diplomates not meeting MOC requirements cannot apply for the exam until MOC re-entry requirements are met.
  • Professional Activity: Be in the active practice and/or teaching and/or research and/or administrative activities relevant to hand surgery. If diplomates are providing care to hospitalized patients, they must hold practice privileges at an accredited health care institution.
  • Professional References: Receive satisfactory references from the chair of surgery and chair of credentials at the institution where the majority of work is performed. If necessary, another physician of comparable rank may be used.
  • Medical License: Have a currently registered full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the U.S. or Canada. Diplomates are required to immediately inform the ABS of any conditions or restrictions in force on any active medical license they hold.
  • Adhere to the ABS policy on Ethics and Professionalism.

Registration Process

  • As of 2018, the ABS no longer requires a separate application process. As long as you are meeting MOC requirements and have a certificate that will expire in 3 years or less, you may register to take the exam. The online registration process is posted each year in spring — you will be notified when the registration process is available.
  • Diplomates who wish to take two MOC exams in the same year do not need to submit most registration materials twice; however registration fees must be submitted for each exam.

Exam Opportunities

  • Once your application is approved, you will be granted a maximum of 3 opportunities within a 5-year period to pass the examination. If you decide not to take the exam in a given year, it is a lost opportunity as the five-year limit is absolute. The 5-year exam admissibility period is independent of your certificate's expiration date.
  • During the five-year admissibility period, individuals who postponed or were unsuccessful will be contacted each year regarding the next exam. A new application is not necessary.
  • Readmissibility: Diplomates who exhaust this five-year period may re-apply for the exam, meeting all current application requirements. See our Lapsed Certificate Policy for additional details.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

  • Upon passing the exam, you will be mailed a new certificate within 6 months. The ABS will also waive 60 credits of CME with self-assessment toward MOC for this recertification; the waiver will appear automatically in your CME Repository.
  • Surgeons who achieve ABS recertification may also apply to the AMA to receive 60 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Please see the AMA website and the direct CME application (pdf) for details.

For application forms and additional information, please send an email to the exam coordinator.

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