Certification Matters: Most Americans Want Their Doctors to Participate in Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment

Nearly Half Would Look for a New Doctor if Theirs Isn't Participating in a Maintenance of Certification Program

CHICAGO, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a survey commissioned by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), 95 percent of Americans say it's important to them that their doctors participate in a program to maintain their Board Certification. Nearly half (45 percent) would look for a new doctor if they learned theirs was not participating in such a program, and 41 percent would stop referring family and friends to that doctor.

Maintenance of Certification is defined in the survey as a program by which Board Certified physicians continue to participate in a process of lifelong learning and self-assessment in their medical specialty.  Only doctors who are Board Certified by one of the 24 ABMS Member Boards may participate in the ABMS Maintenance of Certification® (ABMS MOC®) program.  

"The survey results confirm that certification matters to the American public," said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, president and CEO of ABMS.  "Today's patients are savvy health care consumers.  Board Certification and participation in an ABMS MOC program demonstrates to them that their doctor has met and continues to meet the qualifications to provide quality care in his or her medical specialty."

When asked about the importance of the six factors that are part of the MOC program (Professionalism; Patient Care and Procedural Skills; Medical Knowledge; Practice-based Learning and Improvement; Interpersonal and Communications Skills; and Systems-based Practice), 90 percent of consumers say all the factors are important.  The percentages of people who rate individual MOC program factors as "very important" are:

  • testing at regular intervals to assess the doctor's medical knowledge (60 percent);
  • providing quality of care information to patients/the public (54 percent);
  • periodically assessing the doctor's clinical performance and quality of care to see how he or she compares with other physicians in the same specialty (51 percent).


Today, more than 300,000 physicians are participating in an ABMS MOC program, and that number continues to increase annually.  

When told that some doctors who were Board Certified before 1990 are not required to participate in an ABMS MOC program, 78 percent of consumers say they would be bothered if their doctor chose not to maintain certification and women were more likely to be bothered than men (83 percent women v. 72 percent men).

"The ABMS MOC program is the most extensive and rigorous program of its kind," Dr. Weiss said.  "Unlike a traditional recertification process that relies on the demonstration of competency through methods such as periodic tests or the accumulation of credits at educational meetings, the ABMS MOC program is an active process of assessment and continuous professional development that requires doctors to demonstrate competency and keep pace with advances in the field of medicine throughout their entire careers."  

ABMS recently launched a new website, CertificationMatters.org to make it easier for consumers to find out if their doctors are Board Certified by one of the 24 ABMS Member Boards.  This public resource includes background about the ABMS MOC program and other information to help consumers manage their health care and assess the qualifications of their physicians.  

About ABMS
For more than 75 years, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has been the medical organization overseeing physician certification in the United States. It assists its 24 Member Boards in their efforts to develop and implement educational and professional standards for the evaluation and certification of physician specialists. ABMS Member Boards provide physician certification information to ABMS for its certification verification service programs.  ABMS is recognized by the key health care credentialing accreditation entities as a primary equivalent source of Board Certification data for medical specialists. Patients can visit www.CertificationMatters.org or call toll-free 1-866-ASK-ABMS to see if their physician is Board Certified by an ABMS Member Board. For more information about ABMS, visit www.abms.org or call (312) 436-2600.

The 24 Member Boards that make up the ABMS Board Enterprise and cover over 150 medical specialties and subspecialties include the: American Board of Allergy and Immunology, American Board of Anesthesiology, American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery, American Board of Dermatology, American Board of Emergency Medicine, American Board of Family Medicine, American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Medical Genetics, American Board of Neurological Surgery, American Board of Nuclear Medicine, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Board of Ophthalmology, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, American Board of Otolaryngology, American Board of Pathology, American Board of Pediatrics, American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Board of Plastic Surgery, American Board of Preventive Medicine, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Board of Radiology, American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, and American Board of Urology.

SOURCE American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)