Maintenance of Certification (MOC)
What is the intent of the ABO's Maintenance of Certification process?
The intent of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process of the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) is to provide assurance to the public and to the medical profession that certified physicians continue educational activities, keep current in information and skills, and practice in a contemporary and safe manner. The evaluation is designed to assess the knowledge, experience and skills requisite to the delivery of high standards of patient care in ophthalmology.
What is the MOC process?
MOC consists of the four components listed below:
- Evidence of Professional Standing
- Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
- Cognitive Expertise
- Practice Performance Assessment
Click here for a full description of the MOC components.
What are my requirements and timeframe for completing MOC?
Diplomates who wish to maintain their Board certification must complete the MOC requirements in specified timeframes during the 10-year cycle of their current certificate. While transitioning from recertification to MOC and MOC to MOC 2.0, the components and their required timeframe are slightly different for each group of diplomates. Please refer to Dates, Deadlines & Timeline for MOC Participation to determine the specific requirements for each group of diplomates.
How do I access the ABO's MOC Components?
Users must login with an ABO-designated username and password. The ABO provides usernames and passwords to candidates and diplomates as they are eligible to register or apply for current Board activities.
Why did the ABO change from a recertification process to a Maintenance of Certification process?
In March 2000, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) issued a statement expressing the commitment of the 24 medical specialty boards to the process of MOC to expand on and replace recertification. The change represents the ABO's commitment to better fulfill its mission to serve the public by improving the quality of ophthalmic practice through a process of certification and maintenance of certification that fosters excellence and encourages continuous learning.
MOC is a direct response to the rapidly changing environment of medical practice, increased demand by patients for consistent quality medical care from their doctors and formation of healthcare industry and payer-based organizations aimed at measuring physician competence. These organizations are reacting to a perceived lack of quality care that may lead to the profession's loss of freedom to set its own professional standards while also burdening already busy physicians by fragmenting the processes of quality care measurement. MOC strives to provide a continuous, streamlined process that will support physicians' goals of staying current in information and skills while also providing them with a valuable certification of continued quality care.
Why did the MOC examination change from an open-book take-home exam to a proctored, computerized exam?
The ABO is greatly concerned about the impact of its decisions regarding the MOC process on the lives and careers of ophthalmologists. The decision to change from an open-book, take-home examination to a closed- book, computerized proctored examination was based primarily on the recognition of the value of the certificate within the public domain. Public concern about the continued competence of board certified physicians has prompted significant change not only within the medical specialty board arena, but throughout the medical community. Many state medical licensing boards now require Board certification or recertification within the last ten years in order to obtain licensure by endorsement in that state and other organizations are now recognizing the value of recertification. In addition, state medical licensing boards are increasingly asking for a proctored examination. For more information on the computer-based MOC examination, click here.
Can I participate in MOC if my certificate is not time-limited?
The ABO believes in the value of MOC and encourages all diplomates to participate. Non time-limited certificates are not affected by participation in MOC. Voluntary participation signifies a commitment to lifelong learning and continuous improvement and is rewarded with an additional ABO certificate, valid for 10 years. Click here to learn more about MOC for non time-limited certificate holders. Note: Since 2001, it has been ABO policy that all newly elected Board Directors participate in MOC upon acceptance of the appointment.
Will my certificate expire earlier if I complete the renewal process before it expires?
No. Requirements for certificate renewal can be achieved before or after the expiration date of the time-limited certificate; renewal is for ten years from the expiration of the previous certificate or ten years from the date of completion of the requirements, whichever is later.
Why do I have to recertify and my colleagues do not?
The ABO recognizes the disparity between those diplomates who hold non time-limited certificates and those who must recertify every 10 years. Prior to 1992, the board issued certificates that did not have an expiration date and is legally constrained from imposing one now. The ABO believes in the value of Maintenance of Certification for all diplomates and strongly encourages everyone to participate. Today, only time-limited certificates are issued by the 24 primary or conjoint boards of the ABMS.
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Continuing Medical Education (CME)
What CME credits apply towards the ABO CME requirement for MOC?
The Board accepts only Category 1 CME obtained from an Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)-approved organization.
How do I submit my CME credits?
Users may login to their MOC Status Page and use the CME Tracking Tool to submit CME credits at any time during the 10-year MOC cycle.
How can I tell if the credits I earned are acceptable?
You should look for the ACCME accreditation statement on CME activity materials and brochures distributed by organizations providing the activity.
- The ACCME accreditation statement:
For directly sponsored activities: "The (name of accredited provider) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians."
For jointly sponsored activities: "This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of (name of accredited provider) and (name of non-accredited provider). The (name of accredited provider) is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians."
Still not sure if your CME are acceptable? Send an email with Course Name, Description, Sponsor and Date to firstname.lastname@example.org for review.
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Will the ABO audit my CME submission?
The ABO does not require individual CME certificates; however, the Board reserves the right to verify CME by asking for documentation.
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Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK)
What is the DOCK?
DOCK is a secure, proctored, 150-item computer-based examination administered at nationally-distributed test center locations for a period of one month each year in September. DOCK is comprised of three 50-item modules: one in Core Ophthalmic Knowledge (knowledge considered fundamental to the practice of ophthalmology regardless of the practice emphasis) and two in a Practice Emphasis Area(s) (PEA) of your choice.
Do I need to complete the other MOC requirements to sit for the DOCK?
MOC components must be completed in a specified order according to the year in which you were certified. You are not eligible to register for the next component on the list until the previous component has been satisfied. Please login to your MOC Status Page for more information.
The ABO generally requires two Periodic Ophthalmic Review Tests (PORTs) prior to sitting for the DOCK because the content of the PORTs reflect the content of the DOCK. Participation in the PORTs is designed to help gauge strengths and weaknesses prior to sitting for the DOCK.
Why should I take the DOCK this year if my Certificate does not expire for another few years?
Since 2012, the ABO has offered diplomates five opportunities to participate in the DOCK prior to Certificate expiration. The ABO encourages all diplomates to take the DOCK early, within the first year of eligibility, in order to avoid a loss of certification due to failure or unforeseen circumstances in later years that prevent participation in the examination.
What day during September do I need to sit for the DOCK?
DOCK is available by appointment on regular business days throughout the month of September. In late June, approved diplomates will be sent an email with instructions for scheduling a test appointment at a Prometric Center location.
How much time do I have to take the DOCK?
DOCK is administered in an approximately four-hour testing period, which includes a tutorial and optional break time.
What are the DOCK (and PORT) practice emphasis area modules?
The ten practice emphasis areas are: Cataract/Anterior Segment; Cornea/External Disease; Comprehensive Ophthalmology; Glaucoma; Neuro-ophthalmology and Orbit; Oculoplastics and Orbit; Pediatric Ophthalmology/Strabismus; Refractive Management/Intervention; Retina/Vitreous; and Uveitis.
I am a subspecialist, will the DOCK actually test information related to my practice?
The DOCK is designed to test the information you use to practice on a daily basis and allows you to select the content area of the exam according to your personal practice patterns. All examinees must take 50 questions in core ophthalmic knowledge and can then pick two 50-question modules from 10 areas of practice emphasis.
There are two versions of most practice emphasis modules; however, there is only one version of the Refractive Management/Intervention and Uveitis modules. Examinees can opt to select two modules from one practice emphasis area or one module from two different practice emphasis areas. For example:
- Dr. Schmidt practices 100 percent pediatric ophthalmology and therefore selects his two DOCK modules choices in pediatric ophthalmology.
- Dr. Burrell practices pediatric ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology and, therefore, selects one DOCK module in pediatric ophthalmology and one in neuro-ophthalmology.
What is the passing score?
The pass-fail decision is based on your performance on all 150 questions. Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect; therefore, you should answer every question. The minimum passing score is established by the Board following each examination. Pass-fail results are mailed to diplomates approximately eight weeks following the close of the September test window.
What happens if I fail the DOCK?
Individuals who fail to achieve a passing score on a completed DOCK exam may register for the next year's DOCK administration at no additional charge. This applies only to diplomates who achieved a failing score, and only for the following year's DOCK. An additional failing score the following year, or the failure to register for, schedule, and /or sit for the examination in the following year, will result in cancelation of this provision and the diplomate will need to pay for the DOCK again upon registration in a subsequent year.
DOCK registration period runs from February-June 1 of each year for the September DOCK. Diplomates who do not complete all MOC requirements prior to the expiration of their current certificate will no longer be Board Certified; however, they can continue to participate in the MOC components in an effort to regain Board Certification.
Does the ABO recommend study material for the DOCK?
As a nonprofit testing organization, it is a conflict of interest for the ABO to recommend specific study material for any of its examinations. The ABO does recommend participation in the PORT prior to sitting for the DOCK examination.
PORTs are 50-item, online self-review tests in core ophthalmic knowledge and the same 10 PEAs offered in the DOCK. There is no fee for participation in three PORTs: one core and two PEA's. PORT content reflects the content of the DOCK and provides feedback to missed questions. Therefore, the ABO recommends that individuals registered for the DOCK take the three PORTs offered in order to identify the need for additional study material and/or review of specific topics.
There are three versions of each PORT module (except uveitis). Diplomates can take as many PORT modules as they would like. Any PORTs beyond the three provided by the ABO are $100.
Is the DOCK similar to the written Certification examination I took when I first became Board Certified?
Both examinations are designed to evaluate the most clinically relevant knowledge important to the delivery of quality eye care by practicing ophthalmologists. However, the DOCK has as its principal focus, the clinical knowledge specific to an individual's practice.
Is the DOCK the same as the previous MOC written examination, the CREW?
No. The CREW examination was created to be completed over a two-month timeframe and allowed examinees to use reference material to research information on questions with a high degree of difficulty or that they could not answer with certainty. The DOCK is designed to be completed in an approximate four-hour test period in a closed-book environment and includes questions that test the knowledge practicing ophthalmologists use every day to deliver quality eye care.
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Practice Improvement Modules (PIMs)
Why were the Practice Improvement Platform and Modules developed?
The American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) developed the Practice Improvement Modules to better fill the needs of its diplomates in completion of the Part IV: Practice Performance Assessment requirements of Maintenance of Certification. Whereas the Office Record Review served solely as a self-directed assessment of patient records, the Practice Improvement Modules are designed to guide the diplomate in abstracting charts based on the diplomate's current practice standards and developing and implementing a meaningful improvement plan.
Will someone from the ABO review my patient charts? Do I need to send the ABO copies of the patient records I will use in the Practice Improvement Module?
No. Chart abstraction and re-abstraction within the Modules is an attestation of data collected in the process of treating your patients. The ABO requires some basic, non-identifying information about the patient records to be used, including month and year of birth, initial visit date and most recent visit date. The Practice Improvement Platform will guide users through entering the required information. Once the patient information is entered, you will be prompted to start the selected Module(s).
A complete record for each patient is necessary to complete the online Practice Improvement Modules.
What do I do if I currently do not practice ophthalmology, or if I am in the process of relocating or starting a new practice?
In order to register for and complete the Practice Improvement Modules, you must select and utilize patient charts from the past 12 months for initial chart abstraction, and at least 10 charts of patients currently under your direct care during the re-abstraction process. Therefore, diplomates who may not, for any reason, have access to 30 appropriate patient records will not be able to complete the Practice Improvement Module(s).
Diplomates who are not currently practicing are not required to complete the Modules, and must attest to being clinically inactive.
Practicing diplomates anticipating the inaccessibility of charts (due to changing practice, for example) are encouraged to ensure they have sufficient time and access to complete the Modules within each 5-year timeframe for doing so during their MOC cycle. Diplomates who are practicing are required to complete the PIM and have the responsibility of planning accordingly in order to meet their requirements.
What if my practice is 100 percent specialty, and I am having trouble meeting the 10 patient minimum across three Modules?
The ABO is aware of the need for a pool of modules that encompasses subspecialty areas, and additional modules are forthcoming. However, certificate renewal by the ABO implies knowledge of comprehensive ophthalmology; therefore even diplomates whose practice is limited to one or two practice emphasis areas must meet this requirement.
Can I substitute different patient records after I have registered for a Practice Improvement Module?
Yes, you may substitute up to 5 different patient records during the registration and abstraction process. Beyond this initial substitution, it is imperative that you select patient records that meet the Module definition and timeframe requirements.
How long do I have to complete the Practice Improvement Modules?
The re-abstraction and development of an improvement strategy requires an approximate 30-60 day timeframe for most of the Modules. For others, additional time, up to 6 months, may be necessary based on the diagnosis and ability to obtain patient records that fit the module definition and provide meaningful data. Modules that may require an extended timeframe include: Central Retinal Vein Occlusion, Clinically Significant Macular Edema, Choroidal Melanoma, Exudative Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Infectious Keratitis, Retinoblastoma, and Recurrent Acute Anterior Uveitis.
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For the PQRS: MOC FAQ, please click here
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How do I change my address with the ABO?
If you would like to change your address with the ABO, you may login to your MOC Status Page and click "Update Profile Information" to provide your current contact information.
How does a doctor obtain his/her own status letter?
Certified physicians or active candidates may request a status letter by contacting the Board Office.
How do I get another certificate? How much does it cost?
Additional certificates may be ordered online by logging in to your MOC Status Page and completing the online order form. Before ordering, please ensure that your mailing address is current and up-to-date. Additional certificates cost $100 each.
What is the certificate number to put on the forms I am filling out?
The American Board of Ophthalmology does not issue certificate numbers.
Can I pay for the Board examinations with a credit card?
The ABO accepts Visa and MasterCard as payment for all Board fees.
When will I get my examination results?
You will receive results for the Office Record Review and the Periodic Ophthalmic Review Tests (PORT) instantly upon completion of the activity.
Results for the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) examination will be mailed eight weeks following the September 30 close of the testing window.
How can I change my name with the ABO?
If you would like to change your name with the ABO, please submit legal documentation of your name change (i.e. marriage license, divorce decree, legal name change document) to the Board Office.
Why do I need to add the ABO domain to my Email's Safe Senders List?
The ABO uses email to communicate in a timely and efficient manner. However, because email systems are different, communication via email can be interrupted by security settings and spam-blocking features. The cause of blocked mail can be dependent on the organization, internet service provider (ISP), email program, security programs and spam-blocking tools. The ABO encourages all users to place the ABO domain (@abop.org) on a "safe sender" list in order to enable receipt of ABO email correspondence.
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How can I add a domain to my Email's Safe Senders List?
Due to the vast number of different email programs available, the ABO does not have specific instructions for each; however, the ABO does suggest the following two methods:
- Contact your ISP and ask that email from the ABO be accepted;
- View options of the security setting and spam-blocking tools on your email program to determine if you can "whitelist" the ABO yourself. For example, the Microsoft Outlook Email Program will allow you to add a specific email address or a specific email domain (@abop.org) to a Safe Senders List. (To do this in Microsoft Outlook: highlight the email; click on Actions on the toolbar; click on Junk Email; click on Add Sender to Safe Senders List or Add Senders Domain (@abop.org) to Safe Senders List).
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