As part of a national movement to increase physicians' accountability to
the patients they serve and to improve the quality of care provided to
patients, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) has developed
a Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program, as mandated by American Board of
Medical Specialties. This program will require psychiatrists to show evidence
of "self-assessment and lifelong learning" and pass a cognitive
examination every 10 years.FIG1
© 2004 American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc.
Under the MOC program, psychiatrists must show evidence in four key areas:
professional standing, self-assessment and lifelong learning, cognitive
expertise, and performance in practice.
For evidence of professional standing, the ABPN requires that diplomates
hold an unrestricted medical license to practice medicine.
Evidence of participation in self-assessment and lifelong learning requires
the use of self-assessment tools and the completion of 300 specialty-specific,
Category 1 continuing medical education (CME) credits over the 10-year MOC
The self-assessment and lifelong learning component will be phased in
beginning in 2007.
This means psychiatrists must show evidence of participation in at least
one relevant self-assessment activity and completion of a minimum of 30
specialty-specific Category 1 CME credit hours on the application for the 2007
cognitive examination. An additional 30 CME credits will be required each year
thereafter during the phase-in period.
So, for example, a minimum of one self-assessment activity and 60 CME
credits will be required to apply for the 2008 exam, one self-assessment
activity and 90 CME credits to apply for the 2009 exam, and so forth.
Evidence of cognitive expertise is required one time during the 10-year MOC
cycle. This is accomplished by successfully completing the MOC cognitive
examination (formerly called the "recertification examination").
The cognitive examination is a computer-based examination with multiple-choice
The evidence of performance in the practice component is under development
and will focus on improving physicians' performance in practice.
According to Deborah Hales, M.D., director of APA's Division of Education
and Career Development, APA has been actively involved in the MOC program"
by creating the educational tools our members will need to maintain
She told Psychiatric News that APA's journal, Focus, and
the Focus self-assessment exam will serve as the "backbone of a
comprehensive, lifelong learning plan for psychiatrists, as well as help them
prepare for the recertification exam." Hales also pointed out that
members can take advantage of 10 free online courses on APA's practice
guidelines, "which will help psychiatrists prepare for recertification
and improve their practice skills," she said.
When asked about how the APA practice guidelines fit into the ABPN's MOC
program, Stephen Scheiber, M.D., ABPN executive vice president, stated,"
Among the several methods of accomplishing the lifelong learning
portion of MOC, the APA practice guidelines are one method for diplomates to
use. The whole purpose of MOC is to enhance one's practice as a diplomate of
the ABPN and better serve the public."
As of October 1, 1994, ABPN began issuing 10-year, time-limited
certificates in psychiatry, neurology, and child neurology.
Certificates issued in the subspecialties of addiction psychiatry, clinical
neurophysiology, forensic psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, neurodevelopmental
disabilities, pain medicine, psychosomatic medicine, and vascular neurology,
including those issued prior to October 1, 1994, are all 10-year, time-limited
Time-limited certificates for child and adolescent psychiatry were
introduced in 1995.
All ABPN time-limited certificates, regardless of their exact dates of
issuance, expire 10 years later on December 31.
As of mid-July, 985 psychiatry certificates had been issued since the
beginning of the year, bringing the total number of psychiatry certificates
issued since the ABPN's inception in 1934 to 42,302.
The board first offered recertification in general psychiatry in 2002 to
accommodate diplomates who did not want to wait 10 years before sitting for
the recertification examination.
Forty-three diplomates have been recertified since 2002.
The 2004 recertification examination was administered August 2 to 6. This
was a five-hour exam; applicants selected a date and site for their
In 2005 the ABPN psychiatry recertification examination is scheduled from
July 25 to 29 and August 1 to 5; the application deadline was October 1. Those
who still wish to apply may do so and pay a late fee through March 1,
Beginning in 2005, the ABPN's computer-based examinations will be
administered at Pearson Professional Centers throughout the country. The
application process for all examinations remains the same.
When applicants receive the notification letter of their admissibility to
an exam, they will be given instructions on how to select a date and register
at a Pearson Professional Center of their choice. Details of this process will
also be available on the ABPN Web site in the near future.
More information about the MOC program is posted online at<www.abpn.com>.▪