ABIM's mission is to enhance the quality of health care by certifying internists and subspecialists who demonstrate the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for excellent care.
- Individuals who are appointed to serve the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) are expected to have the ABIM’s mission as their primary interest when contributing to ABIM's work. Physicians are vital to maintaining and improving ABIM’s policies, programs and products that impact more than 200,000 internists practicing throughout the nation. It is precisely because ABIM volunteer members have the opportunity and privilege of setting requirements and standards for their entire profession that the ABIM Board of Directors established a policy that all physicians in service to ABIM fully participate in Maintenance of Certification (MOC).
- Two principles are the Board's touchstones when reviewing and updating the MOC Policy for Physicians Serving ABIM (the MOC Policy):
- Physicians in ABIM service should “eat at our own restaurant,” meaning that members demonstrate their commitment to professional self-regulation by voluntarily meeting the standards they help set for the whole profession.
- Physicians in ABIM service should “experience the MOC program just as all diplomates do,” meaning they must meet the same MOC requirements as the overall diplomate population. These principles are so important to ABIM’s mission, the Board of Directors mandates that membership on all ABIM boards and committees is contingent upon strict compliance to the following points of the MOC Policy:
- The MOC Policy applies to internists or subspecialists whose service is related to decision-making or input on policies, programs and products developed by ABIM. These entities include, but are not limited to, the ABIM Board of Directors, ABIM Council, Approval Committees, Specialty Boards, item writers and any other standing and ad hoc committees or task forces that may be subsequently created by ABIM. Those in service to ABIM are referred to collectively as ABIM “volunteer members.”
- The MOC Policy does not apply to:
- Internists or subspecialists who serve on non-ABIM entities, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), other ABMS members' boards of directors and Approval Committees, specialty societies, credentialing entities and other stakeholder organizations. While ABIM considers MOC status in nominating physicians to external entities, these internists and subspecialists are subject to the policies and procedures of the external entity, not ABIM's;
- Internists or subspecialists whose service is related to research- or focus group-type activities;
- Non-internist physicians certified by other ABMS member boards. These ABIM volunteer members must hold a valid certification from an ABMS member board and meet the MOC requirements of their home board. ABIM does not track or enforce individual MOC requirements of non-ABIM certified physicians; however, ABIM may monitor their certification and MOC status as publicly reported.
- Volunteer members who are internists or subspecialists must hold valid ABIM certification in Internal Medicine or an Internal Medicine subspecialty, and must meet ABIM’s MOC requirements throughout their service. If MOC requirements change during a volunteer member's service, s/he must comply with the then-current requirements.
- Internists and subspecialists who have never passed an ABIM MOC assessment or have not passed an MOC assessment in the previous ten years must take and pass an MOC assessment within the first three years of ABIM service. Volunteer members should be alert that the exam deadline for this “three-year rule” is likely to be out-of-synch with the regular program year deadline of December 31.
- Volunteer members may go more than 10 years between passed assessments if their previously passed MOC assessment falls under regular program rules that allow for more than 10 years between assessments.
- Volunteer members who hold time-unlimited (i.e., “grandfathered”) certifications will never be “not certified” for failing to meet the MOC requirements; however, they would no longer be eligible for continued ABIM service.
- Volunteer governance members who serve on a discipline-specific entity do not necessarily need to maintain the corresponding certificate. In ABIM's competency-based governance, ABIM boards, committees and other entities select volunteer members for the qualities most needed for high-functioning governance, regardless of the certification(s) they are maintaining.
- Volunteer members whose primary role is the development of ABIM knowledge assessment products may be granted MOC points, in accordance with the policy on MOC credit for physicians in ABIM service.
Oversight and Administration:
- Role of the Governance Committee/Board of Directors
- The Governance Committee, chaired by the Board Secretary, is responsible for monitoring and oversight of all Board policies. Changes or updates to the MOC Policy for Physicians Serving ABIM are first taken up by the Governance Committee, and if amendments are found to be needed, the committee makes a formal recommendation to the Board of Directors, which has final authority.
- Role of the President's Office/Governance Services
- The President's Office is the center for the implementation and administration of all Board policies, as well as compliance monitoring. Within the President’s Office is the President's Chief of Staff, who arbitrates questions relating to the Board's MOC Policy, removal from service and whether to refer issues to the Board Secretary or the Governance Committee. Also within the President's Office, the sub-department of Governance Services fields all questions related to the MOC Policy and refers them as necessary. Governance Services monitors the MOC status of all volunteer and coordinates reminders and alerts among the members, staff administrators or exam developers and, if needed, chairs.
- Exceptions and Appeals
- The Chief of Staff will decide on members' requests for exceptions from the MOC Policy, as well as appeals from members concerning staff recommendations. The Board Secretary may also be consulted in situations where a volunteer member may need additional time to come into compliance with this policy. The compliance decisions of the Chief of Staff are the final decisions of the Board of Directors and of ABIM.
- ABIM recognizes that special situations not covered by this policy may occur. If uncertain about these points, individuals are urged to seek the advice of the Governance Services staff, the Chief of Staff or the Secretary of the Board.
Approved: July 1, 2013
Amended: October 17, 2017
Effective: October 17, 2017