In this issue, Lipner and colleagues describe research supporting the value of the examinations used in the maintenance of certification (MOC) programs of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Surgery. The authors of this commentary review the contribution of this research and previous investigations that underscore the value of this component of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) MOC program. In addition, they point out that the MOC examination is one element of a comprehensive approach to physician lifelong learning, assessment, and quality improvement. The ABMS MOC program requires diplomates of the ABMS member boards to engage in continuous professional development in the six domains of competence and performance previously defined by the ABMS and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. Although evidence and a sound rationale exist to support educational and assessment methods that target all six domains, it will be important to continue to build the body of evidence demonstrating the value of MOC to the public and to the profession.
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