FAQs for Maintenance of Certification

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Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK)

Improvement in Medical Practice

General Questions


What is the intent of the ABO's Maintenance of Certification process?

The intent of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process 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.

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What is the MOC process?

MOC is founded on the assessment and development of six core competencies deemed integral to providing high quality patient care. Click here for more information about the MOC process.

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What is my activity schedule for completing MOC?

Diplomates who wish to maintain their Board certification should complete MOC activities within the specified timeframes during the 10-year cycle of their current certificate. Components and their required timeframes are slightly different for each group of diplomates. Please refer to the Getting Started section to determine your requirements, or log into your MOC Status Page to view your personalized schedule.

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How do I access MOC activities?

Log in with your email address and password. If you've forgotten yours, click Retrieve Login to reset your password.

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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 Board Directors participate in MOC.

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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.

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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 kinds of CME credits will meet requirements for MOC?

The Board accepts only Category 1 CME obtained from an Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)-approved organization. For diplomates in Track 2, the Board also requires participation in Self-Assessment CME (SACME) activities. More information about SACME can be found here.

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How do I attest to completion of CME? Do I need to submit my credits?

Use the link on your MOC Status Page to attest to meeting the requirements for CME.The optional CME Tracking Tool may be used to keep track of your CME credits at any time during the 10-year MOC cycle, but submission of these details is not required.

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Will the ABO audit my CME attestation?

The ABO does not require individual CME certificates; however, the Board reserves the right to verify completion of 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. 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. The content of the DOCK is based on the MOC Content Outline. 2018 will be the final year in which the DOCK Examination is administered. In 2019, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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Do I need to complete other MOC requirements to sit for the DOCK?

No. Diplomates are eligible for the exam between Years 6 and 10. 2018 will be the final year in which the DOCK Examination is administered. In 2019, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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Why should I take the DOCK this year if my certificate does not expire for another few years?

The ABO encourages all diplomates to take the DOCK early, within their first few years 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. 2018 will be the final year in which the DOCK Examination is administered. In 2019, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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What day do I need to sit for the DOCK?

The DOCK is available through December 31, 2018 online, via remote proctor. Please note that 2018 will be the final year in which the DOCK Examination is administered. In 2019, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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How much time do I have to take the DOCK?

The DOCK is administered in an approximately four-hour testing period, which includes a tutorial and optional break time. For the duration of your examination and break times, you may not use pen and paper, access written materials, or operate phones, tablets, or other electronic devices, so please plan your schedule accordingly. 

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What are the DOCK (and PORT) practice emphasis area modules?

The 10 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.

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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. These two selections may be from two different practice emphasis areas or both in the same practice emphasis area.

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.

The ABO encourages you to review the MOC Content Outline for detailed information about the content of the exam.

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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.

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Improvement in Medical Practice Activities

What are my options for completing the Improvement in Medical Practice component of MOC?

The American Board of Ophthalmology offers a menu of options for completing an improvement activity.

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What if I am no longer seeing patients?

Diplomates who are no longer in active practice must attest to being clinically inactive.

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What is the Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program?

The Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program (MSPP) is an alternative method for diplomates to complete MOC Improvement in Medical Practice by participating in a group quality improvement project through an Approved Sponsor.  The activity works with all types of health care organizations to recognize the work physicians are already doing to improve their practice and patient care. The team-based quality improvement initiative is a service provided through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

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How do I access the multi-specialty option?

Diplomates should contact the portfolio program office at their organization to begin the process.

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How will I receive credit for the multi-specialty activity?

The approved sponsor will notify the ABO directly once the project is successfully completed.  The diplomate receives confirmation from the ABO when the activity has been received and approved.

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What is a Self-Directed Improvement in Medical Practice Activity?

This is an alternative method for diplomates to develop a self-designed clinical or non-clinical improvement project to satisfy MOC requirements.

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What do I have to do to submit a self-directed application?

The Self-Directed Improvement in Medical Practice Activity link is accessible from the diploamte status page. The diplomate is redirected to the MOCAM activity platform where part-one of the two-part application is completed and submitted for review.

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How long is the self-directed approval process?

Reviews are conducted on a monthly cycle (projects submitted between the 1st and the 25th of each month are sent for review on the 1st of the following month).  Diplomates are advised to allow four (4) weeks for completion of the initial review.

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How will I know if my project is approved?

A system-generated email is sent to the diplomate confirming receipt of their application.  Additional communication is sent from the ABO during the review cycle, which may include a request for more information, notification the application is approved to move to second phase, Part II of application is approved, or the application is denied.

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 General Questions

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.

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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.

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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.

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What is the certificate number to put on the forms I am filling out?

The American Board of Ophthalmology does not issue certificate numbers.

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Can I pay for the Board examinations with a credit card?

The ABO accepts Visa and MasterCard as payment for all Board fees.

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When will I get my examination results?

Results for the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) examination will be mailed in 6-8 weeks.

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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.

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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:

  1. Contact your ISP and ask that email from the ABO be accepted;
  2. 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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