Dermatologists debate maintenance of certification requirements

December 1, 2010

Despite initial protests, dermatologists required to participate in maintenance of certification (MOC) programs generally view them as helpful tools for improving patient care, doctors say. However, even some MOC proponents question the effectiveness of the American Board of Dermatology recertification test in this regard, and the recent shift to a closed-book format.

Key Points

EDITOR'S NOTE: Maintenance of certification - a 10-year academic brush-up and re-examination - is on the horizon for all dermatologists certified by the American Board of Dermatology since 1992. In this issue, we look at some of the issues and opinions, both pro and con, surrounding the rules and the test. Our online sidebar explores the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology's process, now being finalized. See: http://www.dermatologytimes.com/osteocert.

However, even some MOC proponents question the effectiveness of the American Board of Dermatology (ABD) recertification test in this regard, and the recent shift to a closed-book format.

Responding to patient demand for safety and quality, in 1992 the ABD began requiring all diplomates to pass a recertification exam after 10 years and to participate in the ABD's MOC-Dermatology (MOC-D) program along the way, Dr. Roenigk says.

Dermatologists certified up to 1991 have lifetime certificates and need not recertify, he says. Those dermatologists account for about half of the approximately 6,000 diplomates certified by the ABD, according to ABD administrator Margaret Aguilar.

Ultimately, he says, ABD legal experts determined that "Lifetime certificate-holders were given something that can't be taken away. We could only do something going forward, not retroactively."