Physicians Increasingly Participate in Maintenance of Certification Process

June 20, 2011 01:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time 

Consumers Expect Their Doctors to Engage in Ongoing Professional Assessment

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Physicians are actively engaged in voluntary certification - and are maintaining their certification in large numbers according to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the not-for-profit organization that for nearly 80 years has overseen physician certification in the United States. Currently, more than 780,000 physicians hold medical specialty certification from one of the 24 ABMS Member Boards.

Thousands of ABMS Member Board Certified physicians are enrolling annually in a structured recertification program called the ABMS Maintenance of Certification® (ABMS MOC®) program. A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that 91 percent of all active American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM)-certified family physicians eligible for the MOC program are participating. The numbers for internal medicine are similar with a 90 percent enrollment rate and an 85 percent completion rate among physicians who need to maintain certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) in internal medicine or one of its subspecialties. And of the pediatricians certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) in the last 25 years, approximately 90 percent are maintaining certification and are meeting the requirements of the MOC program.

According to a recent survey commissioned by ABMS, Americans expect that their doctors stay current in their medical specialties and maintain certification. Of the 1,000 survey participants, 95 percent said it's important their physicians maintain certification, and nearly half (45 percent) would look for a new doctor if they learned theirs was not participating in such a program.

"The ABMS MOC program is the most extensive and rigorous program of its kind," said Kevin B. Weiss, MD, president and CEO of ABMS. "Unlike a traditional recertification process that relies on 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 a their entire careers."

Research soon to be published by the ABFM demonstrates that completion of ABFM MOC activities results in specific changes in physician behavior that can lead to better outcomes for their patients. Additionally, there is a wealth of research that shows physicians who are Board Certified by an ABMS Member Board deliver higher quality care and have better patient care outcomes than physicians who are not Board Certified.

"With large numbers of Board Certified family physicians now participating in the ABFM MOC process, we felt strongly it was important to assess the impact that this participation has on the delivery of care to their patients," said James C. Puffer, MD, president and CEO of the ABFM. "In a health care environment now demanding high quality, cost-efficient care, this is critically important."

The need for regular assessment of skills, knowledge and judgment is clear. Research has shown that, on average, clinical skills tend to decline over time and the amount of clinical experience does not necessarily lead to better outcomes or improvement of skills. In addition, fewer than 30 percent of physicians examine their own performance data, and physicians' ability to independently self-assess and self-evaluate is poor. Each ABMS Member Board requires physicians to look at their practice and make improvements.

"Staying current is always a challenge in a rapidly evolving field such as medicine," said Christine Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the ABIM. "The ABMS Maintenance of Certification program gives physicians a structured approach to assess their knowledge and skills in an ever-changing health care environment."

"The American Board of Radiology's (ABR) MOC program has helped us identify patient care deficiencies, directly addressing our vision to advance safety and quality in health care," said Gary J. Becker, MD, executive director of ABR. "We are seeing entire practices enroll in the MOC program - even large practices with predominantly lifetime certificate holders - clearly demonstrating ABR-certified radiologists' commitment to the program."

Board Certification by an ABMS Member Board is a voluntary process that goes above and beyond medical licensure and Maintenance of Certification is a lifelong learning and ongoing professional assessment process. Information about this and to determine if your physician is Board Certified can be found at

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 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 or call (312) 436-2600.

The 24 Member Boards that make up the ABMS Board Enterprise and cover more than 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.


Lori Boukas, (312) 436-2626
[email protected]
Lindsay Kahn, (312) 558-1770
[email protected]