About MOC — ABMS and NCCPA

Summarized below is general information about MOC requirements of the American Board of Medical Specialties and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). ABMS assists 24 medical specialty boards in the development and use of standards in the ongoing evaluation and certification. Specialty boards "certify" physicians who have met specific requirements for practice in the specialty.

Maintenance of Certification. Historically, most boards provided one-time, “life-long” certification. With the practice of medicine evolving more rapidly, in 2000 the 24 medical specialty boards agreed to move toward issuing time-limited certification, physicians periodically have to meet requirements to recertify for an additional time period. Newly certified physicians automatically entered their specialty’s Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Some “lifetime” certified physicians are participating in the MOC program.

The MOC programs of all 24 specialty boards have the same four general requirements:

Part I. Professionalism and Professional Standing - including holding a valid, unrestricted medical license

Part II. Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment - educational activities, including self-assessment of knowledge

Part III. Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills - re-certification exam or longitudinal assessments

Part IV. Improving Health and Health Care (IHHC) - participate in assessing and improving health care

Specific requirements of individual boards vary. Within this four-part framework each specialty board has developed its own specific requirements, options for meeting them, and timeframes in which they must be met. ABMS maintains an overview of the requirements of each member Board. To view the overview, go to https://www.abms.org/board-certification/board-certification-standards/. That site has links to the websites of each specific Board and the details of its MOC requirements.

Individual boards continue to evolve their requirements. Therefore, physicians starting the recertification process in a specialty in one year may have specific requirements that differ from requirements applying to physicians starting the recertification process in earlier or subsequent years. Also, physicians starting a new recertification cycle are likely to find that their specialty board’s requirements have changed somewhat from the previous cycle. Physicians participating in a specialty board’s MOC program can check the requirements that currently apply to them by logging onto their personal account on the website of the board.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). NCCPA provides certification for physician assistants. NCCPA will award PI-CME credit to PAs for ABMS Portfolio Program activities. NCCPA weights PI-CME activities more heavily than traditional Category 1 activities. ABMS Portfolio Program activities are equivalent to 30 CME credits before the weighting.The first 20 PI-CME credits earned during a PA’s two-year CME cycle will be doubled by NCCPA.


Usefulness of UMHS Part IV MOC Program by Specialty Board
(4/20/19, partial update)

Certifying Board

Frequency of Part IV

 Highly Useful
Program easier than other options and activities required frequently

Family Medicine

1 (max 2) every 3 years

Internal Medicine

(max 4) every 5 years

Medical Genetics

1 every 3 years (avg)


2 (max 3) every 5 years

Program easier than other options, but activities required less frequently


1 every 5 years


1 every 5 years

Physical Medicine & Rehab

1 every 5 years

Preventive Medicine

1 every 5 yrs

Psychiatry and Neurology

1 every 3 years (avg; easier option?)


1 every 4 years

Less Useful
Board provides options that are often easier than Program

Emergency Medicine

1 every 5 years (easier option)

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Annual (easier option)


Requirement not yet specified


1 every year (easier options)

Radiology (inc. Rad. Onc.)

1 every 3 years (easier options)

Not Useful
Routinely meeting Part IV through an easier option


1 every 5 years (other options)


Outcomes database

Thoracic Surgery

Outcomes database

Not in Multi-specialty Program

If join, usefulness of Program uncertain

Neurological Surgery

1 every 3 years

Plastic Surgery

1 every 3 years

If join, not likely useful (Board provides easier options)

Allergy & Immunology

1 every 5 years

Colon & Rectal Surgery

Outcomes database

Nuclear Medicine

1 every 3 years

Orthopedic Surgery

1 every 10 years