In 2006 the American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) will complete the transition to its Maintenance of Certification program, which stresses lifelong learning and ongoing improvement. What does this have to do with the Academy? In short, everything and nothing.
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) four years ago instructed its 24 specialty boards, including the ABO, to move from a process of recertification to Maintenance of Certification. This directive was given in response to concerns within the profession that medical decisions were not based consistently on current evidence, as well as public concerns about health care safety and quality. The public knows that the pace of technological change and scientific innovation driving the practice of medicine today demands that physicians update their knowledge and skill with increasing frequency. In fact, a Gallup Poll showed 73 percent of Americans consider periodic reevaluation of physician qualifications to be very important.¹
In response to the ABMS directive, the ABO developed its Maintenance of Certification process, which is an extension of ABO recertification, but now includes a closed-book exam, among other requirements.
In 2002 the ABO turned to the Academy for its depth and breadth of expertise in the arena of clinical education, and asked us to develop an ophthalmic knowledge base that identifies and defines areas of clinically relevant knowledge important to the delivery of quality eye care. The ABO would then use this knowledge base as a foundation for the MOC process including the Periodic Ophthalmic Review Test (PORT) and the Demonstration of Ophthalmic Cognitive Knowledge (DOCK) exam.
The Academy agreed to act as an umbrella organization for ophthalmology in the development of the knowledge base. The result is the Practicing Ophthalmologists Curriculum, or POC. Produced by teams of practicing ophthalmologists representing comprehensive and subspecialty ophthalmology, including doctors who are required to participate in MOC, the POC contains fundamental knowledge every ophthalmologist must know to remain current, as well as specialty-specific knowledge.
While the Academy was not involved in creating the Maintenance of Certification program or its examinations, the Academy has made it a priority to help you understand and meet the requirements for MOC and to make it as useful and meaningful to you as possible. To that end, the Academy has utilized the POC to develop the Academy MOC Essentials, a range of products and services to help you navigate this new process. The Academy MOC Essentials can be found at www.aao.org/AME. (For more information, see Help Is on the Way: The Academy Member Guide to the ABO New MOC Process)
Only ophthalmologists who were board certified after July 1, 1992, are required to participate in the MOC process. But some lifetime certificate holders will be among the first to enter MOC in 2006, including ABO directors, many ophthalmology department chairs and the Academy's president, Susan H. Day, MD. Why? In part to show leadership, in part because they believe in the importance of lifelong learning, but mostly because it represents the future.
1 Awareness of and Attitudes Toward Board-Certification of Physicians (Princeton, N.J.: The Gallup Organization, 2003).