Maintenance of Certification

Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) lifelong learning and quality improvement program. All twenty-four ABMS member boards, including the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABOto), have developed MOC programs for their diplomates.

ABMS MOC® acknowledges the growth and complexity of medical science, clinical care and the importance of the physician’s relationship with the patient in delivering quality clinical outcomes. It also requires proof that a physician has the practice-related knowledge to provide quality care in a particular specialty.

MOC is also a professional response to the need for public accountability and transparency. Through MOC, physicians demonstrate that they can assess the quality of care they provide compared to peers and national benchmarks and then apply the best evidence or consensus recommendations to improve that care.

Through a program of lifelong learning and on-going self-assessment, board certified physicians demonstrate their rigorous commitment to achieving quality clinical outcomes for patients in a responsive, patient-focused setting.

Lifetime Diplomates who wish to participate in Maintenance of Certification can do so by clicking on this application link.

The Benefits of MOC
Physicians benefit from participating in MOC because they receive focused learning based on individual practice needs, increase efficiency and reduce malpractice premiums as well as the need for duplicate assessments of credentials, among other benefits.

Patients experience fewer medical errors, better communication and quality clinical outcomes when they choose a board certified physician. Medical specialists who participate in MOC use the most current evidence-based guidelines and standards in their specialty and are widely recognized as leaders in the national movement for healthcare quality.

In fact, MOC is recognized as an important quality marker by insurers, hospitals, quality and credentialing organizations as well as the federal government. Through the MOC program, board certified physicians advance the standard of specialty medical care nationwide. Higher standards mean better care.


Part I – Professionalism and Professional Standing
The participant must complete an annual reporting form, update licensure information. Pay annual fee of $310.

Part II – Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Each participant must obtain 25 CME units per year, 60% of which must be in otolaryngology. The participant is required to successfully complete one ABOto self-assessment module in a specialty area of his/her choice per year. Successful completion means achieving a score of 80% or higher on the module which the participant can take multiple times. In addition to the patient management component, a video of a panel discussion on the controversial topics of the subject matter is included.

Part III – Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills
The participant is required to pass a closed book, computer-based exam once during the last three years of the MOC cycle. The exam is administered in February of each year. Details of the various exam forms (specialty focus) and exam administration are available on the ABOto website.

Part IV – Improvement in Medical Practice
The ABOto is developing this portion of MOC some components of which should be available in the future.

The three components of Part IV include:
  • A patient survey
  • A peer survey
  • A registry that will be the basis for quality improvement activities.
The requirements for the ten year MOC cycle are summarized in the following table in which X indicates a required action:
Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Part I * * * * * * * * * *
Part II * * * * * * * * * *
Part III               Exam
Part IV *

For questions regarding the MOC process, please email

Participation in MOC has many benefits:
A program to encourage practice-focused lifelong learning through annual self-assessment. Many current MOC participants have commented on how MOC has helped their practices. MOC is practice-focus specific. Since so many otolaryngologists limit their practice to a single area, such as Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery or Allergy, the MOC program is structured so the components are relevant to their practices. When a patient goes to the ABOto or the ABMS website to find out if their otolaryngologist is certified, the response includes the date of certification and whether or not the individual participates in MOC. Use of the MOC participation logo is permitted on physician's website.

A growing number of hospitals and other credentialing bodies require MOC participation to maintain privileges.

MOC is recognized by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the ABMS is working on MOC participation being used as a measure of quality improvement activities not only with CMS, but other entities.