November 10, 2021

The ABA’s Statement on ABMS Standards for Continuing Certification

Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 10, 2021The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) strives to increase the value of continuing certification to its physicians.  This goal is shared by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), which recently approved new Standards for Continuing Certification. These Standards, which take effect in 2024, are required to be followed by all 24 ABMS specialty boards.

The ABA supports the principle underlying these new Standards that continuing certification should bring value to diplomates by focusing on lifelong learning and quality patient care. The Standards acknowledge that professional self-regulation is a collaborative process that requires the engagement of many stakeholders, including the public, physicians, professional and state medical societies, CME providers, hospitals and health systems. Indeed, these Standards were the product of a multi-year process incorporating the ideas from these stakeholders.

The one new Standard that may cause concern among our diplomates is the requirement that the ABA renew certificates every five years rather than every 10 years.  In practice, this change will have minimal impact on diplomates as our current continuing certification program already requires completion of continuing medical education and quality improvement activities every five years, and requires annual completion of MOCA Minute questions.

The new Standards also aim to promote activities that help physicians enhance their medical knowledge and promote exceptional patient care, while affirming our commitment to maintaining high standards for board certification.  In many instances, the standards affirm innovations pioneered by the ABA.  For example, the new Standards endorse longitudinal assessment (e.g., MOCA Minute), which emphasizes clinically impactful learning, practice-specific content and regular feedback, rather than periodic high-stakes, multiple choice tests.  The Standards also support collaboration with societies and other stakeholders similar to the ABA’s work with the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 2021 to begin offering CME credit for MOCA Minute participation.

As the ABA prepares to transition from a 10-year to a five-year cycle to meet the Jan. 1, 2024 implementation deadline, the goals of improving care to the patient and of minimizing the administrative and financial burden on diplomates will be at the forefront. The ABA will continue to collaborate with physicians and keep them informed as continuing certification evolves to conform with the new Standards.

To learn more about the Standards, read the ABMS announcement and visit the 2024 MOCA Cycle Transition webpage.