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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.

MOC Assessments in 2018

In 2018, ABIM will begin offering a new two-year assessment option to provide physicians more choice, relevance and convenience in meeting the assessment requirement of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program.

This assessment option, called a Knowledge Check-In, is available for Internal Medicine and Nephrology in 2018. The Knowledge Check-In will become available to other specialties in 2019 and 2020 as an additional option along with the traditional 10-year MOC exam.

Use the information and tools below to understand more about the new assessment option and to decide whether if it will be right for you.

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What is the difference between the Knowledge Check-In and the traditional MOC exam?

The most obvious difference is that the two-year ABIM Knowledge Check-In can be taken in the comfort of your home or workplace. Secondly, it will be a much shorter experience. You do not need to be successful on every Knowledge Check-In to maintain certification (as long as you complete other program requirements). You will also receive performance results much quicker and more detailed feedback about your performance will follow.

  • 1IM and Nephrology only available in 2018 with more specialties to roll out in 2019 and 2020. View our rollout schedule below under "When is the Knowledge Check-In available in my specialty?".
  • 2 In Spring 2018, IM and Nephrology exams will be part open book/part closed book, while other specialties will be entirely closed book
  • 3 In Fall 2018, IM and Nephrology exams will be entirely open book while other specialties will be part open book/part closed book
  • 4 Initially, the Knowledge Check-in will contain questions covering the breadth of the discipline; however, ABIM is continuing to explore focusing assessments on a subset of knowledge relevant to specific practice types

Will the ABIM Knowledge Check-In cover the breadth of my discipline or be more targeted?

Initially, the ABIM Knowledge Check-In will cover the breadth of your discipline but ABIM is continuing to explore how we might be able to move to assessing a subset of knowledge relevant to practice in the future, since many physicians requested this.

How does the Knowledge Check-In work?

What does “no consequences” mean for the Knowledge Check-In?

  • If a physician is successful on the ABIM Knowledge Check-In in 2018, it will count as a pass. If a physician is not successful and their exam was due in 2018 or 2019, they will have another opportunity to take it again in 2020 without a change to their certification status.
  • This doesn't mean physicians can skip the assessment. If a physician skips it, and their certification expires in 2018, their status will change to Not Certified.
  • In addition to meeting other certification requirements, physicians with certifications expiring in 2018 will need to take the Knowledge Check-In or pass the traditional MOC exam or they will no longer be certified.

Can I take the Knowledge Check-In and should I try it?

If I choose the ABIM Knowledge Check-In, will I still have to take the traditional MOC exam?

If you do well on the ABIM Knowledge Check-Ins, you won’t need to take the traditional MOC exam to remain certified.

When is the Knowledge Check-In available in my specialty?

The Knowledge Check-In is available for Internal Medicine and Nephrology in 2018. View the tentative rollout schedule to find out when the Knowledge Check-In will be available in your specialty.

Please note that the Knowledge Check-Ins will be offered every other year from the year they are first offered within a specialty. For example, Knowledge Check-Ins that begin in 2018 will be offered again in 2020. Knowledge Check-Ins that start in 2019 will be offered again in 2021.

Why can’t the ABIM Knowledge Check-In be available for all specialties in 2018?

  • ABIM is working to make the ABIM Knowledge Check-In available for all subspecialties as soon as possible.
  • To effectively develop and implement so many new assessments at one time, ABIM plans to make assessments available as quickly as is realistically possible.

My certification is due to expire in 2017 but the ABIM Knowledge Check-In will be available in my certification area in 2018. Can't I just wait and take that?

  • All physicians with certifications that expire before the ABIM Knowledge Check-In is offered in their specialty will still need to take and pass the traditional MOC exam in order to maintain their certification.
  • Because your certification will expire on 12/31/17—before the ABIM Knowledge Check-In is available in your specialty area—you will need to pass the traditional MOC exam in order to maintain your certification.
  • Allowing your certification to lapse will prevent you from being able to take the ABIM Knowledge Check-In.
  • Once you pass the traditional MOC exam, you will have 10 years before you need to take another assessment.

What if my Internal Medicine or Nephrology exam requirement is due in 2018 and I try the Knowledge Check-In in 2018...

See chart below to understand how trying the Knowledge Check-in in 2018 may impact you.

Physician A passes the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and in 2020 and 2022. He will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway, and his next Knowledge Check-In will be in 2024.

Physician B fails his first Knowledge Check-In in 2018, but it did not count against him since it was the first administration. He was able to take the Knowledge Check-In again in 2020 and, since he passed, was able to continue in the two-year assessment pathway. Even though he fails in 2022, he will be able to try the Knowledge Check-In again in 2024.

Physician C passes her Knowledge Check-In in 2018. Even though she fails in 2020, she was able to take the Knowledge Check-In again in 2022. Since she passed in 2022, she will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway because she did not have two consecutive fails.

Physician D fails his first Knowledge Check-In in 2018, but it did not count against him since it was the first administration. Unfortunately, he also fails in 2020. This means he will have to pass the traditional MOC exam in 2021 in order to maintain his certification. He can enter the Knowledge Check-In pathway again once he passes the traditional MOC exam in 2021, but he will not have to take another assessment until 2031. Since the Knowledge Check-In is only offered every other year, he would have to take it by 2030 if he wants to get back on that pathway before his next assessment is due.

Physician E passes her first Knowledge Check-In in 2018, but fails in 2020 and 2022. This means she will have to pass the traditional MOC exam in 2023 in order to maintain her certification.

What if my Internal Medicine or Nephrology exam requirement is due in 2019 and I try the Knowledge Check-In in 2018...

See chart below to understand how trying the Knowledge Check-in in 2018 may impact you.

The Knowledge Check-In will only be available every other year after the first administration in a given specialty. Since the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In for Internal Medicine and Nephrology is in 2018 and it is a “no-consequence” year, physicians due to recertify in 2019 will need to engage the Knowledge Check-In assessment pathway one year early in order to have two chances to pass before having to pass the traditional MOC exam.

Physician A chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and passes. Even though he fails the Knowledge Check-In in 2020, he will be able to continue on the two-year assessment pathway, and his next Knowledge Check-In will be in 2022.

Physician B chooses to take her first Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and fails, but it did not count against her since it was the first administration. She was able to take the Knowledge Check-In again in 2020, but since she fails again, she will have to pass the traditional MOC exam in 2021 in order to maintain her certification.

Physician C chooses to take the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and passes. Since she passes in 2020, she will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway. Her next Knowledge Check-In will be in 2022.

Physician D chooses to take his first Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and fails, but it did not count against him since it was the first administration. Since he passes in 2020, he will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway. His next Knowledge Check-In will be in 2022.

Physician E chooses to take the traditional MOC exam in 2019. She will not have to take another assessment until 2029 if she passes the traditional MOC exam in 2019. Since the Knowledge Check-In is only offered every other year, she would have to take it in 2028 if she wants to get on that pathway.

What if my Internal Medicine or Nephrology exam requirement is due in 2020 and I try the Knowledge Check-In in 2018...

See chart below to understand how trying the Knowledge Check-in in 2018 may impact you.

For physicians who have an assessment due in 2020 or later, they will be able to engage the Knowledge Check-In assessment pathway before their due year if they want two chances to pass before their assessment is due.

Physician A chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and passes. He also passes in 2020 and 2022. He will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway, and his next Knowledge Check-In will be in 2024.

Physician B chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and fails. It did not count against her, since it was the first administration. She was able to take the Knowledge Check-In again in 2020 and, since she passed, was able to continue in the two-year assessment pathway. Even though she fails in 2022, she will be able to try the Knowledge Check-In again in 2024.

Physician C chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and passes. Even though she fails in 2020, she was able to take the Knowledge Check-In again in 2022. Since she passed in 2022, she will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway because she did not have two consecutive fails.

Physician D chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and fails. It did not count against him, since it was the first administration. Unfortunately, he also fails in 2020. This means he will have to take the traditional MOC exam in 2021 in order to maintain his certification. He will not have to take another assessment until 2031 if he passes the traditional MOC exam in 2021. Since the Knowledge Check-In is only offered every other year, he would have to take it no later than 2030 if he wants to participate in that pathway.

Physician E chooses to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and passes, but fails in 2020 and 2022. This means she will have to take the traditional MOC exam in 2023 in order to maintain her certification.

Physician F chooses not to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 and fails the Knowledge Check-In in 2020. This means he will have to take the traditional MOC exam in 2021 in order to maintain his certification. He will not have to take another assessment until 2031 if he passes the traditional MOC exam in 2021. Since the Knowledge Check-In is only offered every other year, he would have to take it no later than 2030 if he wants to participate in that pathway.

Physician G chooses not to take the first administration of the Knowledge Check-In in 2018 but passes the Knowledge Check-In in 2020. Whether she passes or fails her next Knowledge Check-In in 2022, she will still be able to take the Knowledge Check-In in 2024.

I am planning to take an assessment in 2018. When can I register? What dates is it offered?

Knowledge Check-Ins:

Registration will open in January 2018 for Internal Medicine and Nephrology Knowledge Check-Ins.

Available dates for the Knowledge Check-In are listed below and ABIM will be in touch with more information, including deadlines,  before registration opens:

2018 Internal Medicine Knowledge Check-Ins:

  • June 7
  • June 9
  • September 12
  • September 15
  • November 20
  • December 1

2018 Nephrology Knowledge Check-Ins:

  • June 7
  • June 9
  • November 1
  • November 6

If you are thinking about taking the Knowledge Check-In at home, you will need to make sure your personal or work computer meets the specifications to take the assessment. Check your computer.

Traditional MOC exams:

In January 2018, you can begin to register for traditional MOC exams in both spring and fall 2018.

Registration deadlines:

Deadlines apply to both spring and fall MOC exams and all Knowledge Check-Ins.

I want to take the Knowledge Check-In at home or in my workplace. How do I confirm my personal computer will work?

Taking your MOC assessment outside a testing center lets you choose where you take it and on what device you take it.

But before you register to take the Knowledge Check-In from one of these places, you need to ensure that you have a laptop or desktop that you can use during the assessment because the Knowledge Check-In is not tablet compatible (i.e., iPad, Surface, Kindle).

Check your computer to make sure your personal or work computer meets the specifications to take the assessment.

You also need to answer yes to these questions:

  • Do you have a private, enclosed space that is free from disruptions?
  • Do you have a web camera and microphone?
  • Do you have reliable internet?
  • Do you have administrative rights on your computer?

Please note that the Knowledge Check-In will also be offered at a secure testing center if you cannot or prefer not to take it in your home or office.

What computer specifications are needed to take the Knowledge Check-In at my home or workplace?

You will need the following equipment to participate:

  • A laptop or desktop computer. The Knowledge Check-In is not compatible with a tablet (i.e., iPad, Surface, Kindle) or mobile device.
  • A web camera with a minimum resolution of 640x480 @ 10 fps. The webcam may be built into your computer or may be a separate device that is connected to the computer.
  • A microphone, either built into the computer or a separate device connected to the computer. The microphone should be on and not set on mute. 
  • Headsets are acceptable for the greet process, but must be removed and placed to the side during the exam.

You should also consider the following about your selected computer and location:

  • Operating system of Windows 7 or newer, or newest IOS for Apple computers
  • The text size of your screen should be set to 100%. (Some operating systems set the default to larger than 100%. You can reset text size in the display section of the control panel prior to the exam.)
  • Updated web browser (i.e., Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Google Chrome, Firefox 23 or Safari 6.0.5)
  • Internet cookies must be enabled.
  • All pop-up blockers must be disabled.
  • Reliable, broadband internet connection  (DSL, cable, or LAN/WAN): 512 kbps up/down
  • Dial-up connections are not supported.
  • Wired networks are recommended due to better exam delivery performance when possible.
  • Local administrative permissions on your workstation
  • You should be able to install software freely without requiring permission from someone else.
  • Adobe Flash Player Version 10.1 or newer
  • Secure, private space with a door, away from disruptions
  • No one can be walking behind you within the view of the webcam (e.g., in an office with windows to a hallway).
  • No third party is allowed in the room during your testing session, including during the scheduled break.

Some antivirus and security programs can cause performance issues. You should disable antivirus and security scanning software temporarily while taking your exam.

If your system does not meet these requirements, then you can schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Check-In at a Pearson VUE test center.

I'm having trouble running the system check. What should I do?

First, try running the system check on an alternate computer. If it works, you must use that computer to take the Knowledge Check-In.

Second, contact your IT staff to make sure you have permission to download and install an executable file on your computer.

You will need the following equipment to participate:

  • A laptop or desktop computer. The Knowledge Check-In is not compatible with a tablet (i.e., iPad, Surface, Kindle) or mobile device.
  • A web camera with a minimum resolution of 640x480 @ 10 fps. The webcam may be built into your computer or may be a separate device that is connected to the computer.
  • A microphone, either built into the computer or a separate device connected to the computer. The microphone should be on and not set on mute.
  • Headsets are acceptable for the greet process, but must be removed and placed to the side during the exam.

You should also consider the following about your selected computer and location:

  • Operating system of Windows 7 or newer, or newest IOS for Apple computers
  • The text size of your screen should be set to 100%. (Some operating systems set the default to larger than 100%. You can reset text size in the display section of the control panel prior to the exam.)
  • Updated web browser (i.e., Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Google Chrome, Firefox 23 or Safari 6.0.5)
  • Internet cookies must be enabled.
  • All pop-up blockers must be disabled.
  • Reliable, broadband internet connection  (DSL, cable, or LAN/WAN): 512 kbps up/down
  • Dial-up connections are not supported.
  • Wired networks are recommended due to better exam delivery performance when possible.
  • Local administrative permissions on your workstation
  • You should be able to install software freely without requiring permission from someone else.
  • Adobe Flash Player Version 10.1 or newer
  • Secure, private space with a door, away from disruptions
  • No one can be walking behind you within the view of the webcam (e.g., in an office with windows to a hallway).
  • No third party is allowed in the room during your testing session, including during the scheduled break.

Some antivirus and security programs can cause performance issues. You should disable antivirus and security scanning software temporarily while taking your exam.

If your system does not meet these requirements, then you can schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Check-In at a Pearson VUE test center.

What does “open-book” mean? What can I access?

Open book means that physicians will begin to have access to UpToDate® within the assessment during Knowledge Check-Ins and MOC exams. Access to UpToDate is included in the assessment fee and physicians do not need to have their own UpToDate account.

Open book availability for the Knowledge Check-In:

Physicians will be able to access UpToDate®—an online, evidence-based clinical decision support resource—directly through the exam platform during the 2018 Knowledge Check-Ins for Internal Medicine and Nephrology. All Knowledge Check-Ins that open in 2019 and beyond will feature access to UpToDate.

Open book availability for the traditional MOC exam:

Spring 2018: Physicians will be able to access UpToDate directly through the exam platform for part of the Internal Medicine and Nephrology traditional MOC exams, while the other part will be closed book. This allows ABIM to evaluate the performance of questions to ensure a fair testing experience while transitioning from closed-book exams to exams that allow access to an external resource within the assessment.

All other spring 2018 traditional MOC exams will be entirely closed book.

Fall 2018: Physicians will be able to access UpToDate within the assessment for the entire Internal Medicine and Nephrology traditional MOC exams. All other traditional MOC exams administered in fall 2018 will feature access to UpToDate for part of the exam.

2019 and beyond: Physicians will be able to access UpToDate within the assessment on the entire exam for most specialties. Some specialties may still require part of the exam to be closed book.

What happens if I don't pass the Knowledge Check-In in 2018?

If you are successful on the ABIM Knowledge Check-In in 2018, it will count as a pass. If you are not successful and your exam is due in 2018 or 2019, you will have another opportunity to take it again in 2020.

This doesn’t mean physicians can skip the assessment. If you skip it and your certification expires in 2018, your certification will lapse. In addition to meeting other certification requirements, physicians with certifications expiring in 2018 will need to take the Knowledge Check-In or traditional MOC exam or they will no longer be certified.

Could I lose my certification with the two-year ABIM Knowledge Check-In?

  • You do not need to be successful on every two-year Knowledge Check-In to maintain certification.
  • If you choose the new Knowledge Check-In and you take it for the first time either the year before you are due or the year you are due, and you are not successful, you will have to pass the traditional MOC exam in order to remain certified.
  • If you want to build in a cushion by allowing time for more attempts at the Knowledge Check-In before you are due, plan to take the Knowledge Check-In two to three years before your due date.

I need to take an Internal Medicine or Nephrology assessment by 2019. What does this mean for me?

If you are interested in taking the Knowledge Check-In, it will be offered in Internal Medicine and Nephrology in 2018 and 2020. There will be no Internal Medicine and Nephrology Knowledge Check-Ins in 2019, so if you want to choose that option, you should register for a date in 2018.

If you are successful on the ABIM Knowledge Check-In in 2018, it will count as a pass. If you are not successful, you will have another opportunity to take it again in 2020.

If you do not take the Knowledge Check-In in 2018, you’ll still have the opportunity to take the traditional MOC exam in 2019.

The Knowledge Check-In opens in my specialty in 2019. What does this mean for me?

If the Knowledge Check-In opens in 2019 for your specialty and you are eligible, you can choose that option. If 2019 is the year your assessment is due and you don't pass the Knowledge Check-In, you'll need to pass the traditional MOC exam in 2020 in order to remain certified. Knowledge Check-Ins that open in 2019 will be offered again in 2021 – they will not be offered in 2020.

Beyond 2018, physicians who are unsuccessful on the Knowledge Check-In the year their certification is due will need to take the traditional MOC exam the following year, and only then would their certification status be effected.

What are other physicians doing and how are they deciding?

ABIM Board members share their assessment plans

Rajeev Jain, MD – Dr. Jain is a board certified gastroenterologist who has been in private practice in Dallas, Texas, since 1999. He explains that he plans to take the two-year Knowledge Check-In the first year it's offered in Gastroenterology (2019) because he wants to demonstrate to his patients he is keeping up with medical knowledge.

Roger Bush, MD – Dr. Bush, a board certified internist, is the Founding Program Director of the Billings Clinic Internal Medicine Residency, the first of its kind in this rural, underserved area. He is due to take an Internal Medicine assessment in 2020, and shares that he plans to take the two-year Knowledge Check-In because it fits with the way he learns.

Vineet Arora, MD – Dr. Arora, a board certified internist, is an academic hospitalist, Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery, and Director of Graduate Medical Education Clinical Learning Environment and Innovation at University of Chicago. She is due to take an Internal Medicine assessment in 2021, but because the Knowledge Check-In will only be offered in 2018 and 2020, she plans to take it a year early in 2020. She recommends colleagues certified in Internal Medicine and due in 2019 to think about taking the 2018 Knowledge Check-In.