College of American Pathologists
Printable Version

  From the ABP, more MOC questions and answers


CAP Today




October 2010
Feature Story

What is Part IV? What does it mean that 80 percent of a diplomate’s CME must be directly related to prac-tice? Just two of the many questions asked of the American Board of Pathology, or ABP, about its Main-tenance 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

I received my AP/CP certificate in 2007 and my hematology certificate in 2008. Do I have to report those separately? If so, I’ll be reporting every year.

No. Diplomates who are certified in AP, AP/CP, or CP and one or more subspecialties can simplify the reporting requirement by synchronizing primary and subspecialty certification. In this situation you can report MOC data required for both the primary and subspecialty certifications using the primary certification timeline. The same CME, SAMs, and Part IV activities, and other such activities, can be used to satisfy MOC requirements for all certificates. This process will result in your taking the MOC examinations for all certificates within the primary certification cycle, though you do not have to take the subspecialty and primary examinations in the same year. New certificates for those who complete the process successfully will be issued for all areas at the same time. The required MOC fee will remain $50 per person for the first reporting period and $100 per person (not per certificate) due at the end of each subsequent reporting cycle.

The CME requirement says 80 percent of the diplomate’s CME must be directly related to his or her practice. What do you mean by this, and who will determine whether a particular course fits this definition?

The ABP will be very flexible in this definition. Pathology is such a broad specialty that one could justify CME courses in almost any area as relevant to a pathologist’s practice. A course that might be harder to justify would be something like “Wilderness Medicine” given on a Caribbean cruise. The ABP will audit a certain number of diplomate files periodically to ensure that reported CME activities are in sync with the submitted description of the diplomate’s practice.

What exactly is Part IV?

Part IV is Performance in Practice and basically combines the ACGME competencies of interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and systems-based practice. Part IV looks heavily at quality assurance, both laboratory and individual. Part IV measures should be outcomes-based—for example, there should be a way to look at the effect of a Part IV activity on your practice and document improvement or continuing competence in your practice based on that activity. For example, those diplomates who are required to pass an annual cytopathology proficiency examination can use that activity to satisfy the individual quality assurance requirement. Since all those who sign out cytopathology must take this examination, it would also satisfy the interlaboratory quality assurance requirement. Several pathology societies have a number of activities available that will satisfy either the individual or the laboratory requirements, or both, in this area. These programs are listed on the ABP Web site.

What is a SAM and how does it differ from regular CME?

A self-assessment module, or SAM, is a special type of CME activity that requires an individual to meet a certain performance level on a post-activity examination. All SAMs must be approved by the ACCME for AMA category 1 activity and can, therefore, be used to meet regular CME requirements for licensure and more. The phrase “SAM” is an ABP-generated designation and means nothing to ACCME.

Societies or other entities approved by the ABP to offer SAMs have agreed that: (1) each SAM must be approved for AMA category 1 CME; (2) the description of the activity will include the specific competencies the module addresses; (3) each activity will include a post-test appropriate for the length of the activity and for which an acceptable performance level is defined; and (4) timely feedback, including references, will be provided to the participant.

Answers to questions above provided by ABP executive vice president Betsy D. Bennett, MD, PhD, and ABP trustee James R. Stubbs, MD, chair of the Division of Transfusion Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.