FAQs for Maintenance of Certification

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Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK)

Practice Improvement Activities

MULTI-SPECIALTY PORTFOLIO PROGRAM - (MSPP)

PRACTICE IMPROVEMENT MODULES

PATIENT EXPERIENCE OF CARE SURVEY

SELF-DIRECTED QUALITY IMPROVEMENT (SDQI) PROJECTS

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 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. 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 the future, 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 the future, 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 the future, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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What day during September do I need to sit for the DOCK?

DOCK is available at test centers by appointment on regular business days in September. In late June, approved diplomates will be sent an email with instructions for scheduling a test appointment at a Prometric Test Center location. In 2018, the test will also be available from January through December online, via remote proctor. Please note that 2018 will be the final year in which the DOCK Examination is administered. In the future, all diplomates will participate in Quarterly Questions.

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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.

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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.

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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. Pass-fail results are mailed to diplomates approximately eight weeks following the close of the September test window.

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What happens if I fail the DOCK?

Diplomates who do not pass the 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.

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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. 

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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. The Content Outline is published prior to each examination administration.

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Improvement in Medical Practice Activities

What are my options for completing an improvement activity?

The American Board of Ophthalmology offers three options for completing an improvement project. You can 1) design your own clinical or non-clinical quality improvement project to make changes in an area of practice most relevant to you;, 2) select from a menu of pre-developed Practice Improvement Modules (PIM) with specific disease/diagnoses and patient criteria; or 3) participate through your institution in the Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program.

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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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MULTI-SPECIALTY PORTFOLIO APPROVAL PROGRAM - (MSPP)

What is the MSPP Program?

The Multi-Specialty Portfolio Approval 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 this option?

The Multi-Specialty Portfolio Approval Program link on the MOC status page provides additional information on participating in the program. 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 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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PRACTICE IMPROVEMENT MODULES (PIMs)

Is it possible to complete a Practice Improvement Module in four months?  

Yes, depending on the module selected. Diplomates are encouraged to begin the activity early because improvement periods range from 30 to 395 days, (e.g. YAG Laser Capsulotomy 30-day Improvement Period and Cataract Surgical Management 50-day Improvement Period).

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What is an Improvement Period?

After development of an Improvement Plan, the Improvement Period ranges between 30-395 days depending on the module(s) selected.  During this time, diplomates will implement the changes outlined in their improvement plan when treating new patients.  Diplomates will select charts from patients being treated during this period for use insecond abstraction(re-assessment) phase. 

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Why can't I access my PIM?

During the Improvement Period, when diplomates are implementing the processes outlined in their improvement plan, the PIM modules are not accessible. PIMs will be accessible at the conclusion of the Improvement Period in order for the Diplomate to re-abstract additional patient charts.

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What is re-abstraction?

After abstracting the initial 30 patient charts and developing and implementing an improvement plan during the required improvement period, diplomates will re-measure another 10 patient charts for each module. This process allows the diplomate to measure new activity against baseline data. Note:  Diplomates can select 1-3 PIMs for completion of this activity.  The number of charts necessary for the reabstraction phase will be based on how many areas for improvment the diplomate identifies (1 module = 10 Charts, 2 modules = 20 charts, 3 modules = 30 charts).

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Can I complete a PIM for each eye on the same patient?

No; the activity requires diplomates complete the module using one eye per patient.

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What is PQRS and how does it work?

PQRS is option available to diplomates who complete the Cataract Surgical Management, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma Suspect, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Exudative AMD modules for their Part IV activity. These PIMs work in conjunction with the CMS’ qualified registry equipped to facilitate PQRS reporting of ophthalmic measures. Opting-in will generate PQRS-enabled PIMs that will report measures to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). 

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I report PQRS through my practice; do I still need to select that option with my MOC?

No, if the diplomate is currently reporting PQRS in their practice there is no need to select PQRS with their MOC Part IV activity.

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Will I receive an incentive for participating in PQRS?

The PQRS MOC Incentive Program was available until 2014. The program was sponsored by Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), and tied to MOC by allowing diplomates to register to use PQRS-enabled PIMs to avoid CMS payment reduction in those years. CMS has discontinued this program.

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PATIENT EXPERIENCE OF CARE SURVEY - (PEC)

What is PEC and how does it work?

The Patient Experience of care activity is a 15-question survey the diplomate provides to 45 patients to assess their communication style during the patient encounter. Survey responses are submitted via mail, telphone, or web-based input.

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Is completion of the survey a requirement?

The survey is an optional tool offered to diplomates at no cost. It can also be used to build a self-directed quality improvement project.

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SELF-DIRECTED QUALITY IMPROVEMENT ACTIVITY - (SDQI)

What is the Self-Directed Quality Improvement Process?

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

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What do I have to do to submit an application?

The Self-Directed Quality Improvement 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 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?

You will receive results for 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 close of the September testing window.

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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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