Are you prepared for the ABO's MOC requirements?

December 1, 2005

Beginning in 2006, ophthalmologists board-certified after July 1, 1992 will transition to new Maintenance of Certification (MOC) requirements set by the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO), which stresses lifelong learning and ongoing improvement.

The AAO has developed the Academy MOC Essentials, a comprehensive range of products and services-including a MOC Exam Study Guide (comprehensive study guide organized in a concise study outline format); MOC Exam Self-Assessment (prepare for the exams and earn CME credit with this easy-to-use, online self-review tool); and MOC Exam Review Course (an in-depth review course to help you prepare for the September 2006 closed book exam)-to help ophthalmologists navigate this new process. The Academy MOC Essentials is available at http://www.aao.org/AME.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) 4 years ago instructed its 24 specialty boards, including the ABO, to move from a process of recertification to MOC, a standard the medical community has been working toward since the mid-1970s. Now, it is ophthalmology's turn.

In 2002, the ABO turned to the academy and asked it to develop an ophthalmic knowledge base that identifies and defines areas of clinically relevant knowledge important to the delivery of quality eye care. The ABO would then use this knowledge base as a foundation for the content of two components of the MOC process: the Periodic Ophthalmic Review Test (PORT) and the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) exams.

The result is the Practicing Ophthalmologist Curriculum (POC). Produced by teams of practicing ophthalmologists representing comprehensive and subspecialty ophthalmology, the POC contains fundamental knowledge every ophthalmologist must know to remain current, as well as specialty-specific knowledge.

What's driving this process? One, it's a response from concerns within the profession that medical decisions are not based consistently on current evidence. Two, the public knows that the pace of technologic change and scientific innovation driving medicine today demands physicians update their knowledge and skill with increasing frequency. Lastly, payers, including the federal government, want something more than the single-hurdle certification process.

Only ophthalmologists who were board-certified after July 1, 1992 are required to participate in the MOC process. But some lifetime certificate holders will be among the first to enter MOC in 2006, including ABO directors and many ophthalmology department chairmen. Why? In part, to show leadership because they believe in the importance of lifelong learning, but mostly because it represents the future.

Susanne Medeiros is Editor, Communications Department, American Academy of Ophthalmology, San Francisco.