The ABMS MOC Part III Examination: Value, Concerns, and Alternative Formats

Acad Med. 2016 Nov;91(11):1509-1515. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001291.


This article describes the presentations and discussions at a conference co-convened by the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association (AMA) and by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The conference focused on the ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part III Examination. This article, reflecting the conference agenda, covers the value of and evidence supporting the examination, as well as concerns about the cost of the examination, and-given the current format-its relevance. In addition, the article outlines alternative formats for the examination that four ABMS member boards are currently developing or implementing. Lastly, the article presents contrasting views on the approach to professional self-regulation. One view operationalizes MOC as a high-stakes, pass-fail process while the other perspective holds MOC as an organized approach to support continuing professional development and improvement. The authors hope to begin a conversation among the AMA, the ABMS, and other professional stakeholders about how knowledge assessment in MOC might align with the MOC program's educational and quality improvement elements and best meet the future needs of both the public and the physician community.

Publication types

  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • American Medical Association
  • Certification / standards*
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards*
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Educational Measurement / standards
  • Quality Improvement
  • Specialty Boards / standards
  • United States