CME: Maintenance of Certification on Family Medicine

The maintenance of certification program for family physicians is something that allows the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) to maintain the competency of their professionals. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) – in which ABFM is a member – felt a growing threat from outside the medical industry requiring them to continually strive for excellence. In response to that challenge, ABMS started the MOC program. The program is designed to push their specialists to continually educate themselves even after medical school. To make things more interesting, ABMS started issuing time-limited certificates; that way, their specialists will be left with no choice but to engage in the MOC program and in CME activities.

Like most specialty board members of ABMS, the family medicine MOC program is divided in to four categories; each category must be successfully completed before re-certification is assured. The categories are: professionalism, self-assessment and lifelong learning, cognitive expertise, and practice performance. As you may have noticed, these categories are similar to ABMS’ re-certification program. That is because both professional boards have one goal in mind – to ensure clinical excellence.

Under the current family medicine MOC program, each applicant must complete a string of modules every three years. If an applicant completes all these requirements within the first two stages of the program (six years), he or she is given the privilege to extend their 7-year certificate to 10 years. If, however, the applicant fails to extend his or her certification, his or her 7-year certificate will remain valid provided that he or she completes all four categories within 7 years. Aside from completing all modules, the diplomate must also maintain a full and valid license in the United States or in Canada.

CME definitely plays an important role in all of these because, aside from it is necessary in the completion of category two, it is the best way to meet the goal of the main goal of MOC – to constantly strive for excellence in their field of work. With CME, all medical professionals are kept up-to-date with everything they need to know to provide 100% good quality service to all our patients. CME comes in many different forms like journals, published research, audio, and RSS feeds; there are just so many ways to keep learning new knowledge and skills.

We medical professionals understand the value of learning. Our college subjects taught us a lot of things about the world and some about our practice. In medical school we are bombarded with skills and knowledge necessary for our profession. Believe it or not, however, there is always more to learn; I know that is hard to believe after all the long nights back at school but it is true. Every day someone finds something significant, something we can use to treat our patients.