How to Start Planning for Maintenance of Certification (MOC)

Jun 26, 2018

Preparing for the American Board of Pathology’s (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) can be daunting for someone who is just completing a pathology fellowship.


Christopher Tormey, MD, FASCP, who passed the board certifications in clinical pathology and transfusion medicine in 2008, advises younger pathologists to plan ahead for the MOC process. Start by making use of the available resources that, in many cases, are free. Both the ABP and ASCP websites provide a wealth of guidance on the MOC.

“As an ASCP member, I used the Society’s member online dashboard, which allows me to see what the requirements are for each of the four parts of MOC and to bank my experiences, which I can track over time,” he says. “It can also be really helpful to identify pathologists at your facility, who are moderately experienced in pathology and must participate in the MOC.”

In 2006, the ABP began requiring any individual certified in the general pathology exams or any subspecialty exam to undergo a series of steps to maintain certification. “As a freshly-minted pathologist in 2008, I very quickly went to ASCP, which has a lot of online modules and the Annual Meeting, which help fulfill these requirements, particularly regarding required education credits,” Says Dr. Tormey.

The recertification process comprises the following four parts:

  • Part I: Professionalism and Professional Standing, which requires that, every two years, a pathologist demonstrate he or she is maintaining an active license, document their medical staff membership and healthcare privileges, and provide a description of their current scope of practice.
  • Part II: Lifelong Learning and Self-assessment, which requires that, every two years, a pathologist complete 70 continuing medical education (CME) credits, of which 20 credits must be a self-assessment module (SAM). The pathologist must participate in an American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)-approved patient safety course in the second or fourth year.
  • Part III: Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment and Skills, which requires a pathologist to take the recertification exam every 10 years.
  • Part IV: Improvement in Medical Practice, which requires that, every two years, the pathologist document participation in at least one laboratory improvement and quality assurance activity or program and document peer evaluation in the fourth and eighth years.

“When I first graduated from my fellowship, you could only take your boards in Tampa, Fla. Now, the ABP has opened a second exam site in Arizona. The other convenience the ABP has developed for the recertification exam is that you can do the exam online as well,” says Dr. Tormey.

Check out ASCP’s website or the ABP website to learn more about the MOC requirements.