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The Maintenance of Certification Program (MOC) of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology reflects the Board’s commitment to lifelong learning throughout one’s profession. The purpose of MOC is to ensure that diplomates adhere to the highest standards in medicine and pursue excellence in all areas of care and practice improvement.
The MOC program requires diplomates to participate in sanctioned self-assessment performance measures, identify possible weaknesses in their knowledge, pursue learning activities tailored to individual areas that need to be strengthened, and develop quality improvement programs based on their clinical practice. The goal for diplomates is to reflect on their personal knowledge and performance, commit to a process of improvement and reevaluation over specified time frames, and continually improve care for their patients.
The ABPN has developed a program for our diplomates that strikes a balance between what will likely be required by organizations that license, credential, and pay physicians, and what is reasonable and straightforward enough to be accomplished by busy physicians. Many of our diplomates are already participating in various components of MOC through institutional quality improvement programs. The MOC program endeavors to recognize those efforts. ABPN has worked to develop a clear MOC program that will enable diplomates to demonstrate their competence throughout a certificate cycle.
The ABPN is committed to supporting its diplomates throughout their careers by its mission of advancing the clinical practices of psychiatry and neurology and by promoting the highest evidence-based guidelines and standards.
The ABPN has never advocated for board certification as a requirement for state medical licensure and does not believe that board certification or maintenance of certification (MOC) should be requirements for initial licensure or for maintenance of licensure (MOL). The ABPN strongly recommends to state medical boards, however, that if diplomates do complete the requirements of MOC then that accomplishment should suffice for MOL.
While the ABPN recognizes that board certification has long been considered by clinical institutions and the public at large as a valid measure of the training and competence of physicians to provide quality patient care, the ABPN has never advocated that board certification or MOC be used as a credentialing requirement by any institutions or programs other than for faculty and program directors in ACGME-accredited or ABPN-approved training programs. The ABPN does believe, however, that the medical staff of clinical institutions should be free to select for themselves what their credentialing criteria will be.
For patient information about physician certification and what it means, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) provides a website — Certification Matters — as a resource for the public to learn more about how board certification goes above and beyond basic medical licensure. The public can learn how physicians who are board certified meet nationally recognized standards for education, knowledge, experience and skills to provide high quality care in a specific medical specialty. For more information, see www.certificationmatters.org.