The Increasing Alignment of CME with Maintenance of Certification (MOC): Strategies and Resources for Providers

By Ann C. Lichti, CHCP, Senior Director of Accreditation, Compliance and Outcomes, Physicians’ Education Resource, LLC

This article addresses the following Alliance National Learning Competencies:

  1. Competency Area 1.1 (Using Adult and Organizational Learning Principles)
  2. Competency 2.1 (Designing Educational Interventions)
  3. Competency 4.2 (Collaborating and Partnering with Stakeholders)

Consolidation and collaboration continue to play significant roles in healthcare and continuing medical education (CME). Collaboration between the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) now enables physicians to use online CME-certified activities to help complete requirements for ABMS Part II Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment and MOC Part IV Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement criteria. This growing alliance between continuing education providers, accreditation organizations, medical specialty societies, medical boards and healthcare associations, provides a range of benefits including:

  • Expanded opportunities for accredited providers to develop MOC activities for their physician learners
  • Faster reviews and approvals of MOC activities using a standardized process
  • Streamlined MOC activity registration and tracking for accredited providers
  • Expanded access to evidence-based, online, accredited CME activities for physicians across specialties
  • Increased exchanges of innovative non-accredited education approaches by both educators and learners
  • Comprehensive, established Web portals for ease in MOC activity submission (accredited providers) and participation (physicians)
  • Access to peer-reviewed interprofessional education (IPE) resources

Accredited providers can now use AAMC’s comprehensive Web portal (MedEdPORTAL®), launched in 2005, to register, submit and track information about their accredited MOC-related activities. The Web portal hasadditional components that facilitate an information exchange between educators and learners within the health professions. The workshop, “Improving Maintenance of Certification Self-Assessment Through Collaboration and Innovation,” presented at the 2016 Alliance Annual Conference, provided an in-depth overview of the educational products and services as well as the various submission and review processes.

Submitting Accredited CME Activities via AAMC/ABMS

An important detail for accredited CME providers to note is that AAMC’s Web portal accepts only online, enduring CME-certified activities. The ABMS’s review process ensures that each CME activity is designed to meet MOC Part II Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment and MOC Part IV Practice Assessment/Quality Improvement criteria.2 Using standardized submission forms, accredited providers from non-commercial health institutions may request/obtain MOC approvals from multiple ABMS member boards. CME activities eligible for approval may have been either previously implemented by the accredited provider or developed but not yet released. Accredited providers must first designate credit for the CME activity and ensure it will remain active for at least six months after submission. Once approved, the MOC activities are listed in the AAMC Web portal’s CE Directory for MOC, with links directly to each accredited activity.

ABMS diplomates can easily search the CE Directory to find a comprehensive list of accredited MOC activities. There are currently 270 accredited CME activities listed in the CE Directory for MOC that encompass 1,400 unique member board approvals. ABMS reports that 82 percent of its diplomates use the Web portal and 96 percent would recommend the CE Directory for MOC to peers. Seventy-six percent of diplomates rate accredited CME activity relevance with their practice as “very good or excellent,” and 95 percent of diplomates link these accredited CME activities to improving care processes or clinical outcomes.1

Peer-Reviewed Publication Submissions

AAMC’s Web portal also provides opportunities for education providers or learners to submit standalone teaching and/or learning modules that can be implemented by other organizations or individuals. Submissions undergo a peer-review process prior to acceptance and publication. Additionally, submissions must include a completed Educational Summary Report (ESR) that provides “an overview of the entire submission and should serve as a guide for understanding the purpose and scope of the resource.” Information contained in the ESR, once approved, is made available to the general public. Prospective authors who plan to develop publications focusing on team-based learning, assessment, simulation or standardized patients will complete unique ESRs for these topics.

When preparing submissions, authors should consider these six criteria as described in Scholarship Assessed3:

  • Clear goals
  • Adequate preparation
  • Appropriate methods
  • Significant results
  • Effective presentation
  • Reflective critique

AAMC’s Web portal receives more than 50 publication submissions each month, and there are more than 1,900 peer-reviewed publications currently available.1

Non-Peer-Reviewed Resources

In a nod to innovation, the AAMC’s Web portal includes a dedicated section (iCollaborative) for non-accredited resources, including posters, abstracts, presentations and other reference materials. These nonpeer-reviewed materials cover a wide range of topics including quality improvement, disparities in healthcare, and addressing traumatic brain injury in military service members with caregivers.

iCollaborative provides a platform for educators and learners to “share educational innovations that are being developed, implemented and tested within the health professions.” Education providers can seek opportunities to collaborate with faculty or learners alike to develop non-accredited companion resources, showcase novel educational concepts or share research within the community. Resources remain active for a three-year period to ensure relevance.

Adding Value and Future Directions

ABMS and AAMC continue to solidify their partnership. During the presentation, Robby Reynolds, MPA, sr. director of Medical Education Online Resources for AAMC, and Sarah Flynn, director of Academic Services for ABMS, provided details of a pilot initiative that aims to:

  • Engage academic medical schools in the CE Directory for MOC
  • Provide expanded access to self-assessment and accredited CME activities from academic medical centers
  • Improve collaboration and alignment between the academic medical community and medical boards
  • Align participation in MOC within the context of medical education and training programs

These expanded partnerships between stakeholders will allow the CME industry to continue demonstrating the alignment between both accredited and non-accredited continuing education, physicians’ lifelong learning and quality improvement.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute the views of Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC.


  1. Reynolds R and Flynn S. Improving Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Through Collaboration and Innovation. Workshop presented at: 2016 Alliance Annual Conference; January 2016; National Harbor, MD.
  2. MedEdPORTAL® is a program of the American Association of Medical Colleges.
  3. Glassick, C., Huber, M., and Maeroff, G. Scholarship Assessed. 1997. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Points for Practice:

  1. Encourage accredited providers to develop CME activities that are aligned with MOC criteria from various medical boards.
  2. Support collaboration among accredited providers, medical boards, accreditation organizations and member specialty societies.
  3. Publicize your CME activities that are approved for MOC and share the outcomes.
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