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 demonstrates a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.  Certification by an ABMS Member Board involves a rigorous process of testing and peer evaluation that is designed and administered by specialists in the specific area of medicine.

Certification Matters  If your doctor is certified by an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS Member Board), it means he or she is dedicated to providing exceptional patient care through a rigorous, voluntary commitment to lifelong learning through board certification and ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC).

In addition to completing years of schooling, fulfilling residency requirements and passing the exams required to practice medicine in your state, your board certified specialist participates in an ongoing process of continuing education to keep current with the latest advances in medical science and technology in his or her specialty as well as best practices in patient safety, quality healthcare and creating a responsive patient-focused environment.

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is the most recent stage in the evolution of specialty board certification. Driven by increasing concerns over the quality and safety of medical care, MOC represents a change in the frequency and the nature of the requirements of existing recertification. Under MOC, the every 10-year snapshot of professionalism, participation in continuing medical education, and medical expertise that are part of current recertification will become a more continuous process.

MOC adds the assessment of practice performance to these measures and represents a philosophical change as well as a requirement change. The focus of these assessments is for improvement rather than judgment. The extent to which MOC succeeds will reflect surgeons’ ability to improve the quality of care through voluntary efforts.