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Initial Certification indicates that physicians have met rigorous standards through intensive study, accredited training and evaluation and that they have the clinical judgment, skills and attitudes essential for the delivery of excellent patient care.

MOC is a professionally determined standard that attests that an internist is staying current in knowledge and practice throughout his/her career.

For more than 75 years, Certification by ABIM has stood for the highest standard in internal medicine and its 20 subspecialties.

Changes to MOC Assessment

Below are some questions and answers to help you navigate ABIM's 12/14/16 announcement:

Why did ABIM decide to go with the two-year assessment option? What factors were considered?

Through surveys, focus groups and other discussions, thousands of physicians and several medical societies told ABIM they were interested in new assessment options. ABIM Council, a body of practicing physicians representing several internal medicine subspecialties, reviewed all input. Across all conversations, physicians requested choice, relevance and convenience in how they complete periodic assessments. Taking all of this into account, the shorter, lower stakes assessment every two years emerged as an option that offers physicians the most choice, relevance and convenience – as well as the option that has the most flexibility to focus future assessments on a subset of knowledge relevant to practice.

When can I take the two-year assessment?

Beginning in 2018, ABIM will provide eligible physicians certified in Internal Medicine with a choice of taking an assessment every two years or every 10 years. ABIM will continue working with physicians to make both assessments relevant to practice. We are working to make the new option available for all subspecialties as soon as possible.

What is the two-year assessment option?

The two-year option is a shorter, lower-stakes assessment that you can take in a location of your choosing (in the comfort of your home, office, or testing facility). You'll have multiple dates from which to choose when scheduling the assessment. Initially, the assessment will cover the breadth of your discipline. This “knowledge check-in” offers more continuous learning, feedback and opportunities for improvement. Results (i.e., whether you were successful or not) will be available immediately after the assessment. ABIM will be working with physicians to continually improve these assessments and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

What are the advantages to taking the two-year assessment in 2018?

This “knowledge check-in” offers more continuous learning, feedback and opportunities for improvement. Results (i.e., whether you were successful or not) will be available immediately after the assessment. More feedback will follow. Those who take the assessment in 2018 will be doing so without consequence. This will give ABIM a chance to learn from physicians' experiences and allow the physician community to gain important insights as to the experience of taking this form of assessment, which we expect to be quite different from the traditional 10-year secure exam.

What does “no consequence” mean?

Unsuccessful performance on the two-year assessment in 2018 will not have a negative impact on the certification or MOC participation status of those physicians who take it. However, if physicians are successful on the assessment, it will count. This will give ABIM a chance to learn from physicians' experiences and allow the physician community to gain important insights as to the experience of taking this form of assessment, which we expect to be quite different from the traditional 10-year secure exam.

For physicians with certifications expiring in 2018: In addition to meeting other certification requirements, you will need to take the two-year assessment or take and pass the 10-year exam. Failure to do so will result in loss of certification.

What's the difference between the two-year assessment and the 10-year exam?

The most obvious difference is that the two-year assessment can be taken in the comfort of your home or office. Secondly, it will be a much shorter, lower stakes experience than the 10-year exam.

If I choose this new option, will I still have to take the 10-year exam?

If you consistently do well on the two-year assessments, you won't need to take the long-form exam to remain certified. These two-year assessments will provide feedback on whether you meet a performance standard and help you identify gaps in medical knowledge.

What if I don't do well? Could I lose my certification with the two-year assessment option?

You do not need to be successful on every two-year assessment. But, if you are unsuccessful on two consecutive attempts or if there is a longer gap between assessments, you will need to take additional steps, including taking the long-form exam, to maintain certification.

Why can't the two-year assessment be available for all subspecialties in 2018? When will I be eligible for the new two-year assessment in my subspecialty?

ABIM is working to make the new option available for all subspecialties as soon as possible. To effectively develop and implement so many new assessments at one time, ABIM plans to roll out assessments as quickly as is realistically possible, making improvements with each iteration. As the process moves forward, ABIM is exploring innovative and efficient ways to write and test questions for all subspecialties in order to support the two-year assessment while continuing to make improvements to the traditional long-form exam.

When will I need to pay? How much does this cost?

ABIM is still working out the details on the MOC program fees and payment options, including those for the two-year assessments. We will provide more information, giving you time to consider your payment options before you would need to take the 2018 assessment.

My certification is due to expire in 2017 but the two-year assessment will be available in 2018. Can't I just wait and take that?

All physicians with certifications that expire before the new assessment option is offered in their specialty will still need to take and pass the 10-year exam in order to maintain their certification. Once you pass the 10-year exam, you will have 10 years before you need to take another assessment.

When will the open-book feature be available?

While we are planning to make this feature available for the two-year assessment in the future, right now, as an important enhancement to the 10-year exam, ABIM is prioritizing making the 10-year exam open book. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.