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Comment & Response
March 17, 2015

Time-Limited vs Unlimited Physician Certification

Author Affiliations
  • 1Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2015;313(11):1167. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.0910

To the Editor Dr Lee1 discussed the need for restructuring of the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) programs by the American Board of Medical Specialties, but did not provide a clear direction for change. The MOC programs began as Maintenance of Competence programs, but it was difficult to measure competence.

The programs then transformed into MOC programs, and new certificates were issued on a time-limited basis. A 10-year cycle, with a high-stakes examination, was instituted. The threat was that physicians who did not take or did not pass the examination would lose their certificates. This could have a profound effect on their ability to continue to practice medicine because most of the medical practice in the United States is now specialty-based.