American Board of Medical Specialties and repositioning for excellence in lifelong learning: maintenance of certification

J Contin Educ Health Prof. Summer 2005;25(3):151-6. doi: 10.1002/chp.22.


The board certification movement was founded out of a concern for the quality of care, and today, more than 85% of all physicians licensed to practice medicine in the United States have been certified by an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) member board. There is increasing evidence of a need for continuous monitoring and promotion of quality as well as for assessment and documentation that certified medical specialists are keeping up-to-date so that their continuing competence can be documented. To help, the ABMS established a program called Maintenance of Certification, a system that includes periodic examination of knowledge and the comprehensive evaluation of practice. Maintenance of Certification includes 4 major components: professional standing, including an unrestricted license to practice medicine; lifelong learning and self-assessment; demonstrated cognitive expertise; and practice performance assessment. The efforts of the Conjoint Committee on Continuing Medical Education press continuing medical education providers to facilitate self-directed learning and directed self-learning while driving lifelong learning and assessment into the clinical practices of all physicians who seek to continuously upgrade their knowledge, skills, and behaviors to provide quality medical care.

MeSH terms

  • Certification / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Humans
  • Medicine*
  • Specialization*
  • Specialty Boards*
  • United States