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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.

Governance

ABIM's governance structure consists of more than 350 members on more than 50 boards and committees and includes physicians, allied professionals and public members. Individuals who are appointed to serve on ABIM boards or committees are expected to have ABIM's mission as their primary interest when contributing to ABIM's work and therefore must adhere to our Board Policies. In order to more effectively achieve its mission, ABIM has adopted a governance structure that consists of five entities:

Board of Directors

The size of the ABIM Board of Directors varies from 12 to 15 members. Membership is comprised of leaders in quality improvement, health delivery systems, medical education and other important aspects of internal medicine. A majority of Directors must have current clinical practice experience and at least 30 percent of the Directors have experience with ABIM exam development. Up to 20 percent of members may be non-internist or public Directors. All physician Directors must meet the requirements of the Maintenance of Certification program.

The Board of Directors' role is to:

  • Determine and advance ABIM's mission and strategic policies, and to ensure the primacy, relevance and value of ABIM Certification.
  • Be external-facing and future-focused in setting the direction and strategy for the organization, including setting overall goals and long-range plans for the organization.
  • Establish fiscal policy and provide adequate resources for the activities of the organization.
  • Develop and maintain links and relationships to its constituencies and the community.
  • Exercise ultimate fiduciary responsibility and authority.

ABIM Council

The ABIM Council establishes and pursues the continuous improvement of program standards, policies and procedures governing the requirements for initial Certification and MOC. The Council is where issues that affect physicians across specialties are decided upon and framed so that the Specialty Boards can constructively approach them in a discipline-specific way. Current examples of such issues include implementing policies to help make MOC formative assessment activities more relevant and less burdensome in specialty disciplines. At this critical time when so much is changing in health care, the Council wants its decision-making enriched by the perspectives and expertise from the wider health care stakeholder community and therefore its membership is competency-based including broad participation from membership of the Specialty Boards.

The Council's role is to:

  • Determine requirements for Certification and Maintenance of Certification across internal medicine.
  • Harmonize ABIM standards with those of other recognized physician education and assessment initiatives.
  • Set and integrate operational policies and procedures across the Specialty Boards.
  • Evaluate proposals for new specialties/focused practice areas.

Specialty Boards

The Specialty Boards are where the frontline work at the discipline-specific level is done. Specialty Boards are responsible for the broad definition of the discipline across Certification and MOC. ABIM has a Specialty Board for all disciplines solely sponsored and administered by ABIM, including internal medicine. Specialty Boards have oversight of the exam committees and are responsible for making Certification and MOC relevant vehicles in their discipline.

The role of the Specialty Boards is to:

  • Define, refine and set standards in Certification and MOC in the discipline.
  • Perform oversight/review of performance assessments in the discipline.
  • Build partnerships with societies and other organizational stakeholders in support of ABIM work.

Exam Committees

ABIM Exam Committees are responsible for creating examinations for Certification and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) in Internal Medicine and its subspecialties. As such, they play a crucial role in defining their respective disciplines. ABIM has designated Exam Committees for 20 disciplines. Most Certification exams are administered annually. Recently established disciplines have Certification exams every two years. MOC exams are administered twice per year.

The role of the Exam Committees is to:

  • Develop items for the Certification and MOC exams.
  • Propose the exam blueprint for the Specialty Board's approval; upon approval, implement the blueprint.
  • Confirm that exams constructed according to blueprint specifications are valid.
  • Maintain the exam item pool within the blueprint framework as defined by ABIM.
  • Work with ABIM staff to accomplish goals.

Self-Assessment Committees

Self-Assessment Committees are responsible for creating open-book Self-Assessment of Medical Knowledge products for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). As such, they support diplomates in keeping up to date in their discipline, in alignment with the purpose of MOC. A new Self-Assessment of Medical Knowledge module is released annually. These activities are educational, and provide AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ as well as MOC points. The content focuses primarily on the most recent updates in each discipline that should be changing medical practice, but more established topics that need review may also be addressed. The self-assessment question format is similar to the exam question format: multiple choice clinical vignette questions that primarily test judgment and synthesis rather than the recall of knowledge. An educational rationale and reference citations are published with each question.

The role of the Self-Assessment Committees is to:

  • Develop items for the Annual Update Self-Assessment of Medical Knowledge modules.
  • Determine the composition of a final published Medical Knowledge module in each discipline each year.
  • Maintain the questions published in ABIM Medical Knowledge modules over time.