March 21, 2019

Read Our Response to the Vision for the Future Commission Report

3/21/19 – Last year, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) established the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission, an independent body established to provide recommendations about the future of continuing certification. After a year of comprehensive research, testimony, survey analysis and other work, the Commission issued its final report last month. Its recommendations are meant to transform continuing certification into a more relevant and meaningful program for diplomates across the medical specialties. Last week, ABMS announced its plan to take immediate action to address the Commission’s recommendations.

So, what does this mean for ABA diplomates?

We have been on a journey for the last several years to enhance our program, making it increasingly more relevant and less burdensome for our diplomates. The Commission’s recommendations and ABMS’ action plan will bolster our efforts to continue evolving the MOCA program. Many of the recommendations align well with our past and continuing efforts.

For instance, the Commission recommends that the Member Board community commit to longitudinal assessment or other formative assessment strategies to support learning. We are ahead of the curve. When we launched MOCA 2.0 in 2016 with MOCA Minute® at its core, we did so to help diplomates customize the program to their practice profile, continuously assess their knowledge and connect to targeted educational resources. We wanted to provide greater flexibility and value to diplomates while assuring patients that their anesthesiologists have the knowledge and skills they need to provide exceptional patient care.

MOCA Minute has been widely praised by diplomates who consider it a welcome departure from the once-every-10-year MOCA Exam. Eighty-nine percent of diplomates surveyed in 2017 told us that MOCA Minute was serving them well as an assessment tool.

Today, most other ABMS Member Boards are developing or launching longitudinal assessments of their own and many of them have looked to our Board for guidance and support in doing so.

The Commission also recommends that the Member Boards regularly communicate with diplomates about certification program standards and provide opportunities for them to offer feedback. Since 2014, we’ve conducted a series of focus groups, users’ groups, surveys and forums to share information and collect diplomate input. We also maintained an anonymous email box for diplomates to offer their input as we redesigned the MOCA program. We will soon launch a blog to offer an additional forum to share information and receive diplomate feedback.

We believe that continuing to enhance MOCA should be a collaborative effort. That’s why we’re partnering with our societies, CME providers, education technology experts and others in healthcare to help us vision the future of our continuing certification program. The Commission recommends that Member Boards cultivate collaborations like these.

Last year, we convened a MOCA 3.0 Users’ Group to guide our thinking about how we can incorporate next-generation learning tools that integrate on-the-job learning into the MOCA program. We are committed to taking innovative approaches that harness technology to meet physicians where they are. This will move us closer to integrating the program components to make participating in MOCA less about box checking and more about recognizing and supporting physicians who are advancing their practice.
We believe this will help diplomates demonstrate they are keeping their medical knowledge current and providing high-quality care throughout their careers.

The Commission recommends that boards provide more evidence of the value of continuing certification, which we support. In 2017, we hosted two research summits, one in conjunction with ABMS, to establish a research agenda that explores the efficacy of our programs. Last fall, we published a study in Anesthesiology that found that completing MOCA 1.0 in a timely fashion was associated with a lower incidence of medical license actions. A previous study found a correlation between success on the oral board exam and lower risk of license actions. We’ve published a handful of other studies that demonstrate evidence of the value of initial certification and are doing similar research related to participating in MOCA 2.0 that we hope to publish soon.

Despite these efforts and the program enhancements, we know that some diplomates remain dissatisfied with continuing certification. They have expressed their displeasure on social media, have lobbied state lawmakers to pass anti-MOC legislation and, most recently, have named the ABA in a class action lawsuit. The allegations in the lawsuit could not be further from the truth. We will vigorously defend our programs and the public interest they serve.

We remain focused on enhancing our continuing certification program to promote lifelong learning, enhance outcomes and improve public health. We continue to partner with anesthesiologists across our community to enhance and add greater value to MOCA. We look forward to working with ABMS to put the Commission’s recommendations into practice across the Member Board community. We have an opportunity to elevate practice standards and the quality of patient care within anesthesiology and across the medical specialties. We remain committed to advancing the highest standards of the practice of anesthesiology and look forward to doing that together with you.


Deborah J. Culley, M.D. Secretary