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ABIM/ASCO Medical Oncology Learning & Assessment

As oncologists advance in their careers, many see their practices evolve so that a majority of their time is more focused on one or more site-specific cancer types. With this in mind, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have collaborated to develop a new approach that more closely mirrors physician interests and practice through the ABIM/ASCO Medical Oncology Learning & Assessment.

The Learning & Assessment is a flexible, lower stakes Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that offers physicians the choice of medical oncology assessments – a general medical oncology assessment, or disease-specific medical oncology assessments. Whichever module one chooses, this path assures that a physician will continue to receive a valid and fair assessment that recognizes them as an ABIM Board Certified Medical Oncologist who is staying current in their field. To support continuous learning, the Learning & Assessment will help oncologists identify knowledge gaps and strengths and will link them to relevant educational resources before and after the exam. Physicians will also be able to access evidence-based support tools (e.g. UpToDate®) during the assessment; a process that better resembles day-to-day practice.

ABIM's traditional 10-year MOC exam will also remain an option for medical oncologists to maintain certification.

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How the Program Works

The jointly developed Learning & Assessment provides oncologists with assessment options that keep pace with rapidly evolving oncology practice. Physicians who choose to participate in the Learning & Assessment and take a focused assessment will see an exam composed primarily of questions from a single content area such as Breast Cancer or Hematologic Malignancies. Therefore, these exams are most appropriate for oncologists who spend a significant portion of their practice on this disease area. The exam questions will be written at the same difficulty level as ABIM's traditional 10-year MOC exam in oncology and the question content is not meant to go deeper in the focus area, but broader. In addition to disease-specific questions, each Learning & Assessment exam will include core oncology topics such as supportive care, clinical research methodologies, therapeutic principles, and genomics. The blueprints for the General Oncology, Breast Cancer and Hematologic Malignancies focused assessment modules will be available on ABIM and ASCO's websites in 2019.

Educational materials to prepare for the exam will be available on ASCO University. In addition, specific references to address learning gaps identified through the exams will be published after the assessment and can be found on ASCO University and through a physician's score report. Oncologists will take an assessment every other year with the Learning & Assessment. After an assessment is successfully completed, a physician could choose a new assessment module or select the same area of specialty for their next assessment. Unsuccessful completion of a single Learning & Assessment would never result in a loss of certification, thus making it a lower stakes option for maintaining certification. However, after two consecutive unsuccessful attempts (taken over consecutive administrations), examinees may need to pass the ABIM's 10-year MOC exam to remain board certified. Physicians participating in the Learning & Assessment will still need to fulfill other MOC program requirements, such as earning MOC points.

Compare the Learning & Assessment to the Traditional MOC Exam

Eligibility and Registration

Registration opens for all 2020 ABIM assessments on December 1, 2019. Find more information about your specialty, including exam dates, content (blueprint), tutorial and scoring.

The Learning & Assessment opens in my specialty in 2020. What does this mean for me?

The chart below illustrates potential scenarios and next steps, depending on whether you pass or fail the Learning & Assessment:

Physician A passes the first administration of the Learning & Assessment in 2020 and in 2022 and 2024. He will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway, and his next Learning & Assessment will be in 2026.

Physician B fails his first Learning & Assessment in 2020, but it did not count against him since it was the first administration. He was able to take the Learning & Assessment again in 2022 and, since he passed, was able to continue in the two-year assessment pathway. Even though he fails in 2024, he will be able to try the Learning & Assessment again in 2026.

Physician C passes her Learning & Assessment in 2020. Even though she fails in 2022, she was able to take the Learning & Assessment again in 2024. Since she passed in 2024, she will be able to continue within the two-year assessment pathway because she did not have two consecutive fails.

Physician D passes her first Learning & Assessment in 2020, but fails in 2022 and 2024. This means she will have to pass the traditional MOC exam in 2025 in order to maintain her certification, since the Learning & Assessment is only offered in even years.

Physician E fails his first Learning & Assessment in 2020, but it did not count against him since it was the first administration. Unfortunately, he also fails in 2022. He must take the traditional MOC exam in 2023 in order to maintain his certification. He can enter the Learning & Assessment pathway again once he passes the traditional MOC exam in 2023, but he will not have to take another assessment until 2033.

Get MOC assessment information in your specialty, including dates, scheduling, content (blueprint), tutorial and scoring.

Can I take multiple Learning & Assessments in one year?

Physician A has an assessment due in 2022. She attempted the Learning & Assessment in the spring of 2022 and failed. She re-attempted the Learning & Assessment in the fall of 2022 and passed. She is certified, and her next assessment will be due in 2024.

Physician B also has an assessment due in 2022. He attempted the Learning & Assessment in the spring of 2022 and failed. He chose to switch to the 10 year MOC exam and passed in the fall of 2022. He is certified, and his next assessment will be due in 10 years.

What if I fail multiple Learning & Assessments before my 10-year deadline? Will I be forced to take the 10-year exam early?

In the example above, this physician has an assessment due in 2026. She decided to take the Learning & Assessment early in 2022 and failed. She attempted the Learning & Assessment again in 2024 and failed. She attempted the Learning & Assessment in 2026 and passed. She is certified, and her next assessment is due in 2 years. A physician can attempt the Learning & Assessment without penalty as long as it has been less than 10 years since passing the 10 year exam (initial certification or traditional MOC exam).

What specialty modules will be offered in the Learning & Assessment?

In 2020, General Oncology, Breast Cancer and Hematologic Malignancies will be available with additional options expected in 2022.

Can I use the Learning & Assessment to regain my certification?

Yes, by passing two consecutive General Oncology Learning & Assessments, diplomates can regain certification as long as they are meeting all other MOC requirements. Once certification is regained, diplomates can choose from any of the specialty assessment options available.

What is the difference between the Learning & Assessment and the KCI?

While there are similarities between the KCI and the Learning & Assessment, there are also unique features offered in the Learning & Assessment not currently available in the KCI. As part of the collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Learning & Assessment offers specialty modules in place of a breadth of field assessment. In addition, both pre- and post-educational materials will be provided to those taking the assessment.

Tips for all physicians taking the Learning & Assessment

  • Take the exam tutorial to practice using UpToDate® and become comfortable with the interface.
  • Review the exam blueprint to gain a better understanding of the content that will be covered. All Learning & Assessment are currently breadth of discipline.
  • Sign in to your Physician Portal and review your appointment time.
  • Familiarize yourself with the exam day schedule.
  • All physicians will receive their complete score report within 1-2 months of taking the Learning & Assessment.

If choosing the online option there are a number of things physicians can do to help the exam day experience go well.

Before Exam Day (Online)

  • Complete the System Check using the same computer and in the same location you'll be using on exam day. It may be helpful to take the System Check before registering to make sure your equipment is compatible with the exam software.
  • Watch the What to Expect on Exam Day video to help you prepare your testing space and equipment.
  • Review the FAQs for more detailed information about computer requirements and security.

On Exam Day (Online)

  • Sign in to your Physician Portal and start your exam 30 minutes early to allow for any troubleshooting.
  • Make sure you are using the same computer you used to complete the system check.
  • Prepare your testing space: desk cleared, door closed and webcam/microphone functioning.
  • You’ll need to present the greeter with a valid ID.
  • Use a hardwired internet connection instead of WiFi to improve connectivity.
  • Need help? PearsonVUE staff are available to assist you via chat.

After Exam Day

All physicians will receive their complete score report – highlighting how they performed in different areas of the exam – within 1-2 months of taking the Learning & Assessment.