Perspective on Changes to the Recertification Process for American Physicians

Medical Board RecertificationThe concept of recertification is nothing new among the healthcare field. For decades, medical doctors have understood that they have an obligation to periodically become recertified in their specialty, ensuring that they are up-to-date in their field and able to provide the best standard of care to their patients. Recertification was also an effective tool for demonstrating to staffing bodies, employers, and hospital groups the physician’s expertise in his or her specialty. However, the problem with the old way of recertification, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) was the concept of this “periodic” recertification. It was their argument that physicians should be participating in continuous professional development, which led to the creation of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program that has sparked such controversy within the medical community.

Maintenance of Certification: Does It Require Too Much Time?

The MOC is designed to standardize the recertification process across a variety of medical specialties. While the standards vary depending on the field of medicine, this largely entails a significant commitment from physicians to devote time to studying and preparing for standardized testing in order to maintain their certification. This program further institutes other hurdles toward recertification, such as mandating a stringent time limit for establishing board certification, and a financial commitment from the physicians seeking board certification. This has led to some frustration among physicians because the clear advantage to the MOC hasn’t been effectively established, and many physicians are growing concerned about the intrusive requirements established in this program. And while the ABMS considers the MOC program voluntary, maintaining active board certification is required by many staffing agencies and has significant insurance implications. Perhaps the biggest issue physicians have with MOC rules is that they make maintaining certification too burdensome, forcing them to devote far more time and effort to the maintenance process rather than actually caring for patients.

MOC Rules Can Be Counterproductive for Healthcare

One of the arguments against stringent MOC rules is that they could contribute to worsening the physician shortage. It’s not a far-fetched concern. Physicians near retirement age, or who have spent decades under certification rules that required only occasional recertification, might forego MOC and simply retire. Another potential fallout is that rural areas will remain underserved by physicians because if hospitals and insurers require MOC, attracting well-qualified physicians to those areas may prove more difficult.

It is important to note, however, that physicians seeking board certification or recertification have options. At the American Board of Physician Specialties we require our Diplomates to obtain recertification every eight years and have stringent eligibility requirements in place, but do not require any MOC participation. Instead, we place priority on our physicians delivering consistently exceptional, patient-centric care.

The ABPS Is a Nationally Recognized Choice for Recertification

Physician specialists who are board certified through the ABMS can become recertified through the ABPS if they meet the eligibility requirements for their particular specialty exam. Regardless of whether you earned board certification through the ABMS, the AOA, or the ABPS, we encourage you to thoroughly research your recertification options. You may find that ABPS is more in line with your values and offers you opportunities that you might not find elsewhere. After all, we are a nationally recognized certification body, offering certification and recertification in 18 different specialties, including several innovative specialties—disaster medicine and integrative medicine, for instance.

If you would like to learn more about our physician board recertification standards, contact us today. The ABPS is the official board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.


Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine