Maintenance of Certification (MOC) programs aim to promote lifelong learning and the enhancement of the clinical judgment and skills essential for high quality patient care. Introduced in 2000 as a part of an evolution in recertification to support continuous professional development, MOC is a four-part process that requires ongoing measurement of six core competencies – professionalism, patient care and procedural skills, medical knowledge, practice-based learning and improvement, interpersonal and communication skills, and systems-based practice.

Challenges to  Maintenance of CertificationCardiologists who completed training as of 1990 are required to receive certification through continuous learning, MOC, programs. However, the physicians who are not required to recertify are strongly encouraged to do so since the program contributes to improving the quality of care delivered to patients. A 2012 CardioSurve survey showed that the majority of cardiologists (51%) say that they have enrolled in MOC and are at various stages of the completion process. Additionally, almost one out of four cardiologists (22%) indicate that they plan to enroll in MOC this year, while another one out of four (26%) have no plans to enroll or are unsure.

How do most cardiologists view MOC? In the summer of 2011 a survey of 718 ACC members explored MOC perceptions. The findings show that most cardiologists (56%) do not believe that the benefits of MOC outweigh the costs and effort, and a nearly three to one ratio of cardiologists say that the credit gained by continuing medical education (CME) is more valuable than MOC.

They also feel that educational programs and e-learning (65%) would be the most useful MOC tools, followed by practice improvement modules (PIMs) (49%) and MOC process guidance (46%).

The overall perception of MOC gathered from physician feedback shows that a need exists to change the MOC process so that it is more relevant, less expensive, has better milestones and less resource intensive. Cardiologists would also like to see more opportunities to apply CME to MOC.

“It takes a lot of time away from my work to devote to recertification. I have three separate boards that I have to recertify every ten years. There is also the cost factor which I feel is very high when it comes to review material, courses and the cost of the MOC itself.” — Interventional cardiologist in Texas

In an effort to address these concerns, the ACC recently launched a new Lifelong Learning Portfolio section on* to enable members to design, access, and fulfill their own personalized curriculum based on their own interest areas, preferred learning formats, and practice gap areas. A new “My Transcript/My MOC Tool” can help members understand changing certification requirements and track their progress in CME and MOC. In addition, any credits earned through the ACC will be automatically transmitted into an individual’s portfolio, while any credits earned outside the ACC can be manually entered and scanned to maintain a complete transcript.

Clearly there is a need to enhance cardiovascular education in a way that targets it to individual practice needs. The ACC Lifelong Learning Portfolio and supporting tools are a few ways to help address these contemporary MOC challenges.

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