College of American Pathologists
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  Meeting MOC requirements: ABP answers questions


CAP Today




May 2010
Feature Story

Who has to participate? What problems have surfaced to date? Just two of the many questions asked of the American Board of Pathology, or ABP, about its Maintenance of Certification program. CAP TODAY will publish some of them, and the ABP’s answers, from time to time. Send your own questions about the MOC process or ABP certification to ABP executive vice president Betsy D. Bennett, MD, PhD, at

My AP/CP certificate was issued before 2006. Do I have to participate in MOC?
Candidates whose certificates were issued before Jan. 1, 2006 have non-time-limited certificates and are not required by the American Board of Pathology to participate in MOC. MOC is open to all diplomates of the ABP, and participation in the MOC process does not put your non-time-limited certificate in jeopardy. Diplomates with non-time-limited AP/CP certificates are encouraged to participate in MOC and will be able to do so as soon as electronic reporting is available (end of 2010).

Do I have to maintain all of my American Board of Pathology certifications or can I decide which I wish to maintain through the MOC process?
No, you do not have to maintain all of your certificates. If you were originally AP/CP and your practice is now limited to one of those primary areas, you may choose to maintain, for example, certification in CP but not AP. Similarly, you do not have to maintain your primary certificate to maintain your subspecialty certificate. The ABP encourages diplomates to maintain all of their certificates, and the decision not to do so should be made very carefully. Job circumstances change and your responsibilities in areas like CP may change in the future. If a diplomate gives up certification in one or more areas, he or she will have five years from the time the certificate is dropped to begin participating in MOC again in that area. After five years, if a diplomate wishes to regain certification in an area in which he or she was previously certified but in which MOC has lapsed, the diplomate will have to retake the initial certification examination. The requirement for an additional year of ACGME-accredited training will be waived in this case.

I am required to participate in MOC. Exactly what documentation do I need to send to the ABP? What are the major problems encountered thus far in the MOC process?
The major problems encountered thus far have been failure of diplomates to report MOC documentation for the first two-year cycle and failure to keep their e-mail address updated with the ABP. It is critical that you provide a current e-mail address to the ABP for correspondence. The ABP cannot locate many individuals who must participate in MOC because their e-mail and regular mail addresses are not current.

Diplomates are required to report to the ABP every two years during the 10-year certification cycle. The following information must be submitted:

At the end of each two-year period within the MOC cycle (due Jan. 31 after the end of the second full year after certification; for example, diplomates certified in 2010 would report by Jan. 31, 2013):

  • Documentation of required CME activities [an average of 35 category 1 CME credits per year, to include 10 credits obtained from completion of Self-Assessment Modules, or SAMs].

  • Attestation of laboratory’s or practice’s participation in interlaboratory improvement and quality assurance programs appropriate for the spectrum of services provided.

  • Attestation of diplomate’s participation in at least one laboratory improvement and quality assurance activity program per year appropriate for his or her professional activities.

A reporting form is posted on the ABP Web site for submission by mail. Electronic reporting will be available in the future. It will not be necessary to submit CME certificates or documentation of participation in part IV activities initially. You should retain this information, however, in case your file is selected for audit.

At the end of the fourth and eighth years of the MOC cycle, all of the information described above should be sent plus:

  • Names of peers who can provide attestations as to your interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, ethics, and effectiveness in practice.

  • Documentation of laboratory accreditation, if applicable.

  • Documentation of ¬≠licensure.

The cognitive examination will be available beginning in the eighth year of the MOC cycle and must be completed satisfactorily before the end of the 10th year.

I was in a fellowship right after I certified in AP/CP in 2009. How can I use a fellowship to satisfy MOC requirements?

Participation in an ACGME-accredited fellowship will meet part II and part IV requirements for the two-year period during which the fellowship was taken. If the fellowship was not accredited by the ACGME, the designated institutional official or program director must submit a letter to the ABP saying that the fellowship is reviewed by the GME committee and subject to the same standards as accredited fellowships.

I was certified in AP/CP in 2004 and in my subspecialty in 2006. What am I required to do if my subspecialty certificate is time-limited but my AP/CP certificate is not?

In this situation, you must participate in MOC to maintain your subspecialty certification but you are not required to participate in the MOC program for your primary (AP/CP) certification.

Answers to questions above provided by ABP executive vice president Betsy D. Bennett, MD, PhD, and ABP trustee Diane D. Davey, MD, professor and assistant dean, University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Orlando.