Physician Objections to Maintenance of Certification Requirements

MOC OppositionPhysician specialists have begun to voice their objections to the recent implementation of maintenance of certification (MOC) rules that make it more difficult to maintain active physician board certification credentials. Whereas the member boards of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS®) require recertification after eight years, and other board certifying bodies in North America used to require 10 years between recertification exams, MOC rules require physician specialists to successfully complete exams every two or three years.

One of the biggest complaints against the MOC rules was put forth in a lawsuit filed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons against the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The suit complained that MOC rules restrain trade, potentially harming the careers of physicians. One example cited in the lawsuit was a New Jersey physician who lost his hospital privileges because he had not complied with MOC rules to keep up his physician board certification in Family Medicine.

More than 16,000 physicians have signed an online petition expressing their objection to the MOC rules and requesting that board certifying bodies that have implemented these rules rescind them.

One of the potential major drawbacks of the new MOC rules is that they could contribute to worsening the physician shortage. How? Physicians near retirement age, or who have spent decades under the previous board certification rules that required only occasional recertification, might forego MOC and simply retire. Another potential problem is that rural areas will be under-served by physicians because if hospitals and insurers require MOC, it will become even more difficult to attract young, well-qualified physicians to those areas.

Perhaps the biggest issue physicians have with MOC rules is that they will make maintaining board certification far too burdensome. Whereas the ABPS member boards give physician specialists a reasonable, eight-year period between recertification exams, MOC rules force physicians to devote far more time and effort to the maintenance process than actually caring for patients. In addition, 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.

For more information about the ABPS and its member boards, contact us today. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty board certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®


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On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine