• What is Maintenance of Certification?

    1. Background on Maintenance of Certification
    2. MOC Toolkit
    3. MOC Timeline

    Background on Maintenance of Certification®

    The development of Maintenance of Certification® is a professional response to the need for public accountability and transparency.  Through Maintenance of Certification®, physicians 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. 

    Through a program of lifelong learning and ongoing self-assessment, board certified physicians demonstrate their commitment to achieving quality clinical outcomes for patients in a responsive, patient-focused setting.

    That is why in 2000, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and 24 Member Boards of the ABMS agreed to evolve their recertification program to be a continuous professional development program - Maintenance of Certification® (MOC®).  The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) is one of the 24 approved Member Boards of the ABMS.  The primary function of each of these boards is to evaluate candidates in their primary specialty and subspecialty areas who voluntarily appear for review and to certify those qualified as "diplomates" or "subspecialists" of that board.  This is accomplished through a comprehensive process involving educational requirements, professional peer evaluation and examination.  In 2006, all Member Boards received approval of their ABMS MOC® program plans, and are now implementing the

    Four-part Process for Continuous Learning:

    Part I: Licensure and Professional Standing: Hold a valid, unrestricted medical licensure. 

    Part II: Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment: Educational and self-assessment programs determined by your Member Board - the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)

    Part III: Cognitive Expertise: Demonstrate your specialty-specific skills and knowledge. 

    Part IV: Practice Performance Assessment:  Demonstrate your use of best evidence and practices compared to peers and national benchmarks. 


    within the

    Six Core Competencies for Quality Patient Care:

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    Maintenance of Certification® Toolkit

    The Evolution of Medical Licensure

    Certification is an indication that the specialist has completed an approved medical education program and an evaluation, including an examination designed to assess the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to provide high quality care in that specialty at the time the certificate is awarded.

    When the process of certification was begun, diplomates were awarded certificates that were not time-limited, and therefore did not have to be renewed. In recognition of the pace of change in medical knowledge, certificates awarded are now time-limited, and are valid for six to ten years, at which point the diplomate must become “recertified” through a process of continuing education in the specialty, review of credentials and further examination.

    Why Adopt Maintenance of Certification®?

    Physicians benefit from participating in MOC® because they receive focused learning based on individual practice needs, increase efficiency and reduce malpractice premiums.  Patients experience fewer medical errors, better communication and quality clinical outcomes when they choose a board certified physician. Medical specialists who participate in MOC®  use the most current evidence-based guidelines and standards in their specialty and are widely recognized as leaders in the national movement for healthcare quality.  Additionally, MOC® is recognized as an important quality marker by insurers, hospitals, quality and credentialing organizations, as well as the federal government.  Through the MOC® program, board certified physicians advance the standard of specialty medical care nationwide.  

    The Meaning of Board Certification

    Medical specialty certification in the United States is a voluntary process.  While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific.  Board certification - and the Gold Star - demonstrate a physician's exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.  

    The Gold Star signals a board certified physician's commitment and expertise in consistently achieving superior clinical outcomes in a responsive, patient-focused setting.  Patients, physicians, healthcare providers, insurers and quality organizations look for the Gold Star as the best measure of a physician's knowledge, experience and skills to provide quality healthcare within a given specialty.

    MOC® Audience:

    I. Diplomates Holding Lifetime Certificates

    Diplomates who were certified in 1994 or earlier, who are grandfathered into the lifetime certification will have access to the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) MOC® program, and are encouraged to participate.  Their participation is not necessary for them to retain their original certification.

    II. Diplomates Holding 10-year Time Limited Certificates

    Diplomates certified in 1995 or later, hold 10-year time limited certificates, and must meet the requirements of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) MOC® program to maintain their status as certified specialists. Upon completion of the MOC program, diplomates will be issued a new certificate subject to the terms and conditions of the ABPS. 

    *Diplomates with an expired certificate may contact the ABPS office to request application material to re-establish certification with the Board: staff@abplsurg.org.  

    III. Candidates for Initial Certification

    Diplomates initially certified after implementation and conversion of the American Board of Plastic Surgeery (ABPS) MOC® program, will be issued a certificate subject to the terms and conditions of the ABPS. 


    Maintenance of Certification® Timeline

    In year 3, 6, and 9:

    Step 1: One Practice Assessment in Plastic Surgery (PA-PS) Module which requires the diplomate to:

    a. Select one of 24 *Tracer procedures available. 
    b. Enter data into The American Board of Plastic Surgery website from 10 consecutive cases of a single tracer procedure such as breast reduction or carpal tunnel syndrome. 
    c. Review benchmarking report on the ABPS website.  
    d. Complete one MOC-approved educational activity aligned with the tracer procedure such as an online CME article or one of the MOC courses held at the national meetings. 
    e. Complete the Action Plan for Improvement.  

    Step 2: *Professional Standing Update which requires the diplomate to: 

    a. List medical license, hospital privileges, outpatient facilities, advertising material, society membership and peer evaluations.  If audited*, then supporting documentation is required.
    b. Upload CME summary report(s) for the current and previous CME cycles from the ASPS website, or upload CME documentation confirming at least 150 CME credits earned during the last three years.
    *The ABPS does audit random samples of diplomates during completion of the Professional Standing update. Documentation required during the audit must be uploaded in PDF format before finalizing the Professional Standing.  

    Lifelong Learning Products and Resources

    Online CME/MOC Courses: The PSENetwork.org offers more than 100 online clinical courses where you can earn CME credit.

    Online Self-Assessments: The PSENetwork.org offers four MOC Exam Study Guides.  

    ABPS approved MOC-PS® courses based on the following *tracers:

    1. Reduction Mammaplasty
    2. Breast Reconstruction (Primary) Expander/Implant
    3. Autologous Breast Reconstruction (Primary)
    4. Pressure Sores
    5. Facial Skin Malignancy
    6. Lower Extremity Acute Trauma
    7. Wound Management (including Burns)  (new tracer procedure effective Jan. 1, 2014)

    8. Augmentation Mammaplasty
    9. Face Lift
    10. Suction-assisted Lipectomy
    11. Blepharoplasty
    12. Abdominoplasty
    13. Rhinoplasty (new tracer procedure effective Jan. 1, 2014)

     Cleft Palate
    15. Unilateral Cleft Lip (new tracer procedure effective Jan. 1, 2014)
    16. Orbital and/or Zygomatic Fractures
    17. Secondary Cleft Nasal Deformity
    18. Nonsyndromic Craniosynostosis
    19. Mandible Fractures  (new tracer procedure effective Jan. 1, 2014)

    Hand Surgery
     Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    21. Dupuytren's Disease
    22. Thumb Carpometacarpal Arthritis
    23. Flexor Tendon Laceration
    24. Metacarpal Fracture 


    In year 7, 8 OR 9:    

    Step 3: Finalize the online application with required documentation.   

    In year 8, 9, OR 10:

    Step 4: Successfully complete the 200-question computer-based exam.  Exam offered in preferred module (Comprehensive, Cosmetic, Craniomaxillofacial or Hand). 

    For More Details:  

    Please contact the ABPS offices if you have questions:

    Maria D'Angelo
    American Board of Plastic Surgery
    1635 Market Street, Suite 400
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-2204
    (215) 587-9322


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