A Member Board of the American Board of Medical Specialties

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The Trustees of the American Board of Pathology (ABP) are pleased to announce that we have been selected to participate in the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Assessment Initiative pilot.  Currently MOC Part III assesses a diplomate’s knowledge, judgment, and skills with a secure examination. This initiative will develop and test a new model for assessment that will be both formative and summative.  ABMS will facilitate and support the participating Member Boards in the development, delivery and evaluation of alternate assessment models, with a goal to improve our diplomates’ MOC Part III experience, while retaining a reliable and valid assessment that allows for credible summative decisions for continuing certification.

Why is ABP launching this MOC Assessment Initiative pilot?

In response to feedback from our diplomates participating in MOC, the ABP continues to modify the MOC program to be more relevant and valuable, and this initiative will likely be a significant and well-received improvement.

There is growing emphasis in adult education and learning on the use of frequent, longitudinal assessments with retesting of key content as a means of increasing and improving retention.  Longitudinal assessment models represent an evolution from traditional, point-in-time secure exams.  In addition to being an assessment of learning, this will be an assessment for learning. While the program specifics are still being developed, the plan is for the ABP to send multiple choice questions at periodic intervals to participants.  They will have a specified amount of time during which they answer a question.  They then receive immediate feedback with the correct answer, a short narrative about the topic, and references. The assessment will incorporate many of the features of the American Board of Anesthesiology’s (ABA) MOCA Minute™.  See for more information on their program.

The ABP plans to launch the Assessment Initiative pilot in 2017 for volunteer diplomates who are certified in APCP or AP.  Volunteers will be expected to answer a minimum number of items each year, commit to the duration of the pilot, and provide feedback to the ABP on the initiative. During the initial phase of the pilot, the ABP will not assess a volunteer diplomate’s performance. Participation in the MOC Assessment pilot will allow our diplomates to have a voice and active role in creating the next generation of MOC Assessment, which may be used in lieu of the MOC Part III exam in 3-5 years. Their participation and feedback will help inform and assess the pilot’s development and offer valuable insight as to the user experience. Diplomates will still have the requirement to take and pass the MOC examination before the end of their first ten years after initial time-limited certification, but this pilot could help diplomates prepare for the exam.  The ABP is still considering incentives for diplomates to participate in the pilot.

The greatest challenge to make this assessment relevant for all ABP diplomates will be developing a sufficiently large and diverse item bank of questions to be able to offer specialty and practice relevant assessment. This will take several years, so we anticipate that the pilot will last for 3-5 years. ABP plans to add volunteers to the pilot as subspecialty items are developed. We will be soliciting volunteers who are interested in being item writers and/or reviewers.

What is CertLink™?

CertLink™ is the ABMS shared platform that will support pilot longitudinal assessment models. CertLink will present multiple choice questions to participating diplomates, then provide immediate feedback, an essential element in learning and retention. Diplomates will have a personalized dashboard summarizing performance and areas of strength and weakness.

Next Steps and What Does This Mean for Me?

This email is for information only and diplomates do not have to do anything at this time.

In the future the ABP will:

  • share more information and pilot details as they become available
  • request volunteers to participate in the Assessment Initiative Pilot
  • request volunteers to be item writers and reviewers; ABP will provide instructions and a template for item submission

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email us at

Please feel free to share and distribute this announcement.


Rebecca L. Johnson, MD

Chief Executive Officer
American Board of Pathology









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