American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)  
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MOC Competencies and Criteria

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Maintenance of Certification (MOC)
Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS)
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Reflections on Maintenance of Certification
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MOC Competencies and Criteria

Through ABMS’ Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process, board certified physicians in 24 medical specialties build six core competencies for quality patient care in their medical specialty. These competencies were first adopted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and ABMS in 1999.

About the Six Core Competencies

  • Professionalism—Demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities, adherence to ethical principles and sensitivity to diverse patient populations.

  • Patient Care and Procedural Skills—Provide care that is compassionate, appropriate and effective treatment for health problems and to promote health.

  • Medical Knowledge—Demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical, clinical and cognate sciences and their application in patient care.

  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement—Able to investigate and evaluate their patient care practices, appraise and assimilate scientific evidence and improve their practice of medicine.

  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills—Demonstrate skills that result in effective information exchange and teaming with patients, their families and professional associates (e.g. fostering a therapeutic relationship that is ethically sound, uses effective listening skills with non-verbal and verbal communication; working as both a team member and at times as a leader).

  • Systems-based Practice—Demonstrate awareness of and responsibility to larger context and systems of healthcare. Be able to call on system resources to provide optimal care (e.g. coordinating care across sites or serving as the primary case manager when care involves multiple specialties, professions or sites).

A Four-part Process for Continuous Learning

Specialists from each ABMS Member Board create and implement the activities for their specialty. These are built upon evidence-based guidelines, national clinical and quality standards and specialty best practices. Click here for an overview of the Requirements for ABMS Maintenance of Certification.

While ABMS guides the MOC process, ABMS’ 24 Member Boards set the criteria and curriculum for each specialty. The four-part MOC process includes:

Part I —Licensure and Professional Standing
Medical specialists must hold a valid, unrestricted medical license in at least one state or jurisdiction in the United States, its territories or Canada.

Part II—Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Physicians participate in educational and self-assessment programs that meet specialty-specific standards that are set by their member board. To learn more about each of the ABMS Member Boards Part II requirements, please click here.

Part III—Cognitive Expertise
They demonstrate, through formalized examination, that they have the fundamental, practice-related and practice environment-related knowledge to provide quality care in their specialty.

Part IV—Practice Performance Assessment
They are evaluated in their clinical practice according to specialty-specifi c standards for patient care. They are asked to demonstrate that they can assess the quality of care they provide compared to peers and national benchmarks and then apply the best evidence or consensus recommendations to improve that care using follow-up assessments. To learn more about each of the ABMS Member Boards Part IV requirements, please click here.