Get Up to Date on Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Questions and Answers

Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD


Maintenance of Certification, that process now defined by the American Board of Medical Specialties, as required for physicians to show ongoing competence in their areas of medical practice is rapidly approaching. MOC will be fully implemented in 2014 at which time a series of requirements put in place to demonstrate lifelong learning will be fully implemented. Psychiatrists may show ongoing competence in general psychiatry, but the option of demonstrating ongoing competence in one’s specialty area is also an option. This means that those of us who have passed boards for Added Qualifications in Addiction Psychiatry can recertify in this specialty to show ongoing competence in our practices. AAAP has been developing MOC activities for two years now in the service of its members. Our goal is to help our members and affiliates to be able to show ongoing lifelong learning in Addiction Psychiatry as well as competence in its practice.

We will now be asked to show ongoing competence in our fields of practice by passing a cognitive examination in our specialties every 10 years. Further, the Federation of State Medical Boards has advised that ongoing competence by a physician in their area of practice be demonstrated periodically in order to maintain state medical licensure. Therefore, it is likely that MOC will morph into maintenance of licensure at some point going forward. This requirement will underscore the importance of maintaining a program of lifelong learning.

 AAAP is developing a MOC program that will help our members to meet the requirements of MOC. We offered the first of what will be a yearly Self Assessment Examination that members may take at no charge to test their skills in areas identified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as content areas for the recertification cognitive examination. Members will also receive Self Assessment continuing medical education credits (CME) for completion of the examination and related didactic opportunities that are completed at the AAAP Annual meeting.

     In addition, AAAP will develop Performance in Practice (PIP) activities that will assist members in completing additional MOC requirements and we will develop CME opportunities that can be used to meet MOC requirements.

The process of MOC can be somewhat confusing at times. This column will be an opportunity for members to ask questions about MOC and get answers in upcoming newsletters. For this first MOC column, I have included questions from members about MOC and answers that I received from Larry Faulkner, Executive Director of the ABPN. I hope you will find this column valuable as you start your MOC work. I am planning to do a monthly column answering questions from members and providing updates on MOC as we develop new learning opportunities for our members and for those interested in Addiction Psychiatry.

A question was asked regarding use of MOC CME credits and continuing education activity credits for those taking recertification in more than one specialty (for example: recertification in General Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry):

Answer: Credits for activities that are approved by ABPN can be used for multiple certifications. You need only complete the MOC requirements once and can use those credits toward all of your recertification requirements for all specialties in which you intend to remain certified.

What is the best way for me to keep track of my MOC activities completed?

It is important that you go to the ABPN website and sign up for the Folio. This will provide a personalized space on the ABPN website where you can record your MOC activities. As you do so, the Folio has been designed to tell you what remaining activities you must complete before you are eligible to sit for a recertification examination. The Folio site can be reached at:

You will need to register and then you can start to record your approved MOC and CME activities.

A question was received regarding the need for Self-Assessment CME (at least 8 per year) within the mix of AMA Category 1 CME needed for MOC (300 CME hours over a 10 year cycle or approximately 30 CME yearly), and how to obtain these specific Self-Assessment CME.

Answer: Those taking MOC activities can fulfill the Self Assessment requirements in two ways. 1. You may take approved Self-Assessment activities listed on the ABPN website in addition to taking 2 Self Assessment examinations over the 10 year cycle. 2. You may take a Self-Assessment examination every year and obtain credit for that activity. For example, AAAP will be offering a Self Assessment Examination with associated activities that give Self-Assessment CME each year at its annual meeting which will be ABPN-approved and can be used to meet this requirement. We plan to offer this as a free service to members attending the annual meeting, so you might want to consider attending the annual meeting each year to obtain these required credits. Non-AAAP members will be able to take this examination, but there will be fees associated for non-members to take the examination.

Question: How do I complete approved Performance in Practice (PIP) activities?

Answer: Go to the ABPN website to view approved activities. For a list of ABPN approved products, click here.

This will take you to the list of approved ABPN products. Select from these and complete 3 over the 10 year cycle (when fully phased in; for those recertifying prior to full phase-in in 2017, check the Phase In Schedule on the ABPN website to determine what you must complete to sit for a recertification examination).Currently there are only 3 PIP modules directed to substance abuse education, but AAAP is in the process of developing more activities for PIP that will be ABPN approved. This column will cover such activities and other CME activities in development in future issues of the AAAP newsletter.

Please note that I am using the term “ABPN-approved” activities. This is important because there may be CME providers out there who will charge you for MOC activities that you may then learn were not ABPN approved and cannot be used for MOC. You can confirm approved MOC activities at the ABPN website and please make sure you do so before paying for CME activities that you hope to use for MOC.

Question: How is documentation kept regarding Peer and Patient Feedback?

Answer: Feedback from 5 peers and 5 patients must be obtained twice during a 10 year cycle for recertification. ABPN provides forms that can be given to patients and peers for feedback. You should keep these in your personal records and simply record in your Folio when this activity is completed. Enter the information into your Folio as follows for the example of a Peer Evaluation (same for Patient Evaluation, but change Activity Title to Patient Evaluation Survey):

Activity Title for a colleague evaluation:

  • Peer Evaluation Survey

Sponsor name

  • ABPN
  • No names of patients or peers are entered into Folios
  • 5 patient & 5 peer surveys are collected; then recollected within 2 years from same 5 patient and peer or different 5 patient and peers

Question: How does the Clinically Inactive diplomate meet MOC requirements?

   Answer: Clinically Inactive psychiatrists wishing to recertify must complete MOC activities, but will not complete Part 4 (PIP) of MOC requirements. They will be listed by ABPN when all other MOC activities are completed as “Recertified, Not Clinically Active” or for those who see only a few patients (Recertified, Not Clinically Active Enough to Complete MOC Part 4”. If patient care activities are to resume, there will be a series of PIP MOC activities to be determined by ABPN that must be completed before the certification status will be changed to clinically active. Individual states may at some point have requirements regarding activities approved under a medical license for those “Clinically Inactive” or “Not Clinically Active Enough to Complete MOC Part 4”. These have not been defined as yet and individuals would need to check with their own states for more information on this question.

Please write to AAAP to let me know of questions about MOC and we will include those questions and answers in future columns so that all of our members will be updated about MOC activities and requirements.


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