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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 Underlying Certification

Below are some questions and answers to help you navigate ABIM's 7/1/15 announcement about changes to the MOC program’s underlying certification requirements:

What is the change to the requirement for maintaining underlying certification?

Effective January 1, 2016, ABIM diplomates will no longer need to maintain underlying certification in a foundational discipline to remain certified in any of ABIM's 20 subspecialties.

This policy change affects the nine subspecialties that currently have this requirement: Adolescent Medicine, Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Hospice & Palliative Medicine, Interventional Cardiology, Sleep Medicine, Sports Medicine and Transplant Hepatology.

For example, effective January 1, 2016, Interventional Cardiology diplomates will no longer need to maintain Cardiovascular Disease certification in order to maintain certification in Interventional Cardiology.

Please note that the underlying certification requirements for initial subspecialty certification have not changed.

If I only want to maintain my overlying certification, do I still need to take the underlying MOC exam if my underlying certification expires this year (2015)?

No. You do not need to take the exam in the underlying certification area if you wish to maintain only the overlying certification. Because the policy change takes effect on January 1, 2016, you will remain certified in your overlying certification (provided you meet all other requirements) on January 1, 2016 even if your underlying certification lapses on December 31, 2015.

If you are currently scheduled for the Fall 2015 exam in the underlying area, you can choose to cancel the exam under ABIM's exam cancellation policy.

My underlying certification expires this year (12/31/15). Will I lose my overlying certification if I don't complete all my requirements by the end of this year?

No. Because the policy change takes effect on January 1, 2016, you will remain certified in your overlying certification (provided you meet all other requirements) on January 1, 2016 even if your underlying certification lapses on December 31, 2015.

This means that you do not need to take the exam in the underlying certification area if you wish to maintain only the overlying certification. If you are currently scheduled for the Fall 2015 exam in the underlying area, you can choose to cancel the exam under ABIM's exam cancellation policy.

Does this mean that I don't have to take any more MOC exams or do any other requirements (for either my overlying or underlying certificate)?

No. The policy change states that ABIM diplomates will no longer need to maintain underlying certification in a foundational discipline to remain certified in any of ABIM's 20 subspecialties. This policy change affects the nine subspecialties that currently have this requirement: Adolescent Medicine, Adult Congenital Heart Disease, Advanced Heart Failure & Transplant Cardiology, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology, Hospice & Palliative Medicine, Interventional Cardiology, Sleep Medicine, Sports Medicine and Transplant Hepatology.

If you are planning to maintain your overlying certification, you will still need to maintain the requirements of that certification, which includes passing the MOC exam. You do not need to take the exam in the underlying certification area if you wish to maintain only the overlying certification.

Can I get a refund for the fees I paid for the underlying certification I no longer need to maintain?

If you paid an annual fee, no. ABIM does not give refunds or credits on annual payments.

If you prepaid for ten years in 2014 or after, you may be eligible for a prorated credit under ABIM's refund policies if you withdraw from MOC in the underlying certification area.

No refunds or credits will be given for exams you have already taken.

My overlying subspecialty certification lapsed because I lapsed in the underlying certification. What do I need to do to reinstate my overlying certification?

On January 1, 2016, if you have met all other MOC requirements to renew your overlying subspecialty certification, you will become certified in the overlying subspecialty when the new policy takes effect.

If you have other outstanding MOC requirements, you will become certified in the overlying subspecialty as soon as you have met all the requirements to renew your subspecialty certification after the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016.

Your MOC Status Report through your Physician Login will tell you what you need to do to renew your certification. Please note that until the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016, your Status Report may still indicate that you need to pass the MOC exam in the underlying area in order to reinstate your overlying certification. When the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016, your Status Report will be updated to reflect this requirement change.

If you would like to meet your outstanding requirements now so that your certification status will be updated when the new policy takes effect on January 1, our Diplomate Services representatives can help clarify what you need to do. For assistance, please call ABIM Diplomate Services at 1-800-441-ABIM (2246) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon ET or send us an e-mail at request@abim.org.

When will my overlying certification be reinstated if I've already met all the requirements now that the policy has changed?

On January 1, 2016, if you have met all other MOC requirements to renew your overlying subspecialty certification, you will become certified in the overlying subspecialty when the new policy takes effect.

If you have other outstanding MOC requirements, you will become certified in the overlying subspecialty as soon as you have met all the requirements to renew your subspecialty certification after the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016.

Please note that until the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016, your Status Report may still indicate that you need to pass the MOC exam in the underlying area in order to reinstate your overlying certification. When the policy takes effect on January 1, 2016, your Status Report will be updated to reflect this requirement change.

Our Diplomate Services representatives can help clarify whether you have any outstanding requirements. For assistance, please call ABIM Diplomate Services at 1-800-441-ABIM (2246) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon ET or send us an e-mail at request@abim.org.

Have the requirements for initial subspecialty certification changed? Do I still need to maintain current, valid underlying certification to initially certify in an overlying subspecialty?