ACC Efforts Result in ABIM Decision to Decouple Board Certification from Initial MOC Enrollment

In a major reversal, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced it is reversing its policy requiring physicians who have passed the initial Certification exam in 2014 or later to have enrolled in the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process in order to be listed as board certified. Effective immediately, physicians who are meeting all other programmatic requirements will not lose certification simply for failure to enroll in MOC. This decision is a direct result of ACC's efforts over the last two months seeking an expedited resolution of this issue by ABIM.

In May, College leadership was made aware of an email from ABIM to early career cardiologists who had passed the Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam in 2014. The email informed them of the need to enroll in MOC by March 31, 2015, in order to be publicly reported as certified in Cardiovascular Disease. It also stated their certification would remain valid only as long as they were participating in MOC. Concerned about the implications of this new process, ACC leadership engaged ABIM leaders immediately, encouraging them to level the playing field for all diplomats. The current policy reversal that affects all recent ABIM diplomats, not only cardiologists, is a direct result of ACC intervention. Get more details on the reversal and what this means for physicians here.

"By tying together board certification and enrollment in Maintenance of Certification, the American Board of Internal Medicine appeared to devalue the secure examination passed by recently certified physicians, by setting different standards for them compared to those certified in previous years. The ABIM should be commended for recognizing the negative impact of this policy on current and future employment opportunities, particularly for those in the early stages of their careers, and taking the steps necessary to reverse it," said ACC President Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC.

This recent ABIM decision follows several other major changes to MOC over the last year that have occurred as a result of continued advocacy by ACC, other cardiology specialty societies and internal medicine stakeholders on behalf of their members. On July 1, the ABIM announced it was eliminating the "double jeopardy" requirement to maintain underlying certification in a foundational discipline in order to remain certified in a subspecialty, effective Jan. 1, 2016. For cardiologists, this means that those specializing in interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, advanced heart failure and transplant and adult congenital heart disease no longer need to maintain certification in general cardiology in in order to maintain certification in a cardiology subspecialty. Other changes include an updated "Application for ABIM MOC Recognition" that provides more opportunities for physicians to earn MOC Part II points for activities with a self-assessment component that have traditionally been designated as CME credits only, and a suspension for at least two years for MOC Part IV practice improvement modules along with patient safety and patient voice requirements.

"The ACC and its members are being heard and this will no doubt continue," said Williams. "The College is continually engaged with ABIM with a goal of engendering a constant dialogue and an atmosphere of change for the benefit of our members and their patients." An ACC Task Force is currently identifying how best to work with the ABIM to address additional recommendations, while a second ACC Task Force is also exploring alternatives to ABIM MOC accreditation. Recommendations of both Task Forces are due to the Board of Trustees this month. Stay tuned to and the ACC in Touch Blog for continued updates.

Keywords: Certification, Physicians, Internal Medicine

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