November 10, 2021

ABMS New Standards for Continuing Certification – ABA FAQs

1. When do the new standards go into effect?

The new standards go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.

2. What does this mean for my MOCA requirements?

We do not expect the new standards to impact what diplomates must do to continue meeting requirements as we’ve already adopted much of what the standards recommend.

3. What’s changing?

The new standards emphasize things like collaborating with specialty societies to identify areas for improvement in patient care and moving from high-stakes exams to longitudinal assessments for learning and demonstration of knowledge. The ABA already collaborates with specialty societies and we began using longitudinal assessment in 2016.

The biggest change is the move from a 10-year certificate cycle to a five-year cycle, which means diplomates will need to complete certification requirements every five years. In our current program, diplomates are required to complete half their 10-year certification requirements by year five and most diplomates do. So, the diplomates’ effort to meet this new standard should not change.

We will not change all diplomates to a five-year cycle in 2024. This change will occur when a diplomate’s current certificate expires after 2024. Once diplomates are issued five-year certificates, those who do not complete the requirements will risk having their certificates expire.

4. What does the cycle length change mean for my current certificates?

The new cycle length will go into effect in 2024. We will not change all diplomates to a five-year cycle in 2024. This change will occur when their current certificates expire after 2024. 

Example: If your current certificate ends on Dec. 31, 2023, you will receive a new 10-year certificate that would end on Dec. 31, 2033 because the new cycle requirement will not have taken effect yet.

However, if your current certification cycle ends on Dec. 31, 2025, your new five-year cycle will begin on Jan. 1, 2026 and end on Dec. 31, 2031 because the new five-year cycle length will have already taken effect.

5. What do I need to do?

There is no action for you to take.

6. How do the new standards change the amount of work I’ll have to do?

Since the ABA is already engaging in many of the activities the standards recommend or require, including longitudinal assessment, we expect the new standards to be relatively seamless for our diplomates with no additional work.

7. Why is the certification cycle changing?

The ABMS and Member Boards community has received repeated and consistent feedback from public users of our certificate that a 10-year cycle is too long to assure them that diplomates are meaningfully engaged in a program to maintain the currency of their knowledge and skills. With the exponential growth of scientific knowledge and technical advancements evolving so quickly, witnessed with COVID-19, the need for more ongoing engagement in learning and new knowledge development has emerged.

8. Why does the ABA have to conform to these standards?

The ABA is part of the ABMS federation of medical specialty certifying boards and is governed by ABMS policies. These policies are designed to bring value to the public and the medical profession by providing the public with a reliable and trusted credential, while bringing value to diplomates by supporting their learning and improvement needs.

9. How were the standards created and why?

The ABMS community sought to evolve the standards to add value for diplomates while continuing to support its mission to provide the public with a reliable, trusted and dependable credential.

The standards were developed through more than a year and a half of deliberation with key stakeholders in response to the recommendations of the Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future Commission as well as feedback received from the wider stakeholder community. The Vision Commission sought feedback from various stakeholders, including the public, physicians, and the boards, including the ABA.

10. Who was involved?

The standards reflect input that the boards community received from a variety of stakeholders including patients, practicing physicians, board-certified diplomates, professional and state medical societies, and others who possess, use, or rely upon the board certification credential as an indicator of a diplomate’s professionalism and proficiency in specialty knowledge and skills.

Following the drafting of preliminary standards, the ABMS had an open, 80-day public comment period last spring and obtained additional input from thousands of stakeholders, including individual diplomates, public, and specialty societies.

11. Why didn’t the ABA or ABMS ask me if I wanted these changes?

The ABMS had an open, 80-day public comment period last spring and obtained additional input from thousands of stakeholders, including individual diplomates, public, and specialty societies. Diplomates were informed of this open comment period and had the option to offer input at that time.

12. Are there any additional costs expected?

There will be no additional fees levied on diplomates with these changes. Diplomates will continue to pay an annual MOCA registration fee, which is currently $210 per year.


Go to ABA’s Statement