What if I was certified before Continuous Certification and was enrolled in the 10-year cycle MOC program?
With the advent of the Continuous Certification MOC program all participants of the 10-year cycle MOC program were re-enrolled into the Continuous Certification program. Note that the Lifetime ABR certificate holders were not automatically enrolled into the Continuous Certification program (but there is an optional sign-up for those individuals available should that be desired).
It occurs annually on March 15th. Note that, while this look-back occurs annually, different requirements of the MOC program have different periods that are looked back upon. For example, ten years are looked back upon to determine if you have either passed the initial certification exam or the MOC exam whereas three years are looked back upon to determine if you have achieved enough continuing education credits during that extent.
Do I need to immediately acquire my attestations after becoming certified in order to be considered meeting requirements if I’m practicing in a non-license requirement state? If I wait until my 6th year, won’t I not have this requirement satisfied for my first look-back?
No, according to the ABR, you do not need to acquire your first attestations until your sixth year of MOC. Until then, consider your passing of the exam as satisfying the attestation portion of MOC for years 1-5. Note though that the same does not apply to practice in a license-based state. For those states, you must immediately submit and actively keep that state license valid.
How does the attestation work? What are my colleagues, who have been kind enough to agree to provide this attestation, going to be asked to do?
Once you identify your two attestors on your myabr personal account, they will receive notification that they need to complete an attestation for you. They will complete their attestations on your behalf under their logins for their myabr personal accounts.
How do I know if I need an attestation or a license?
Valid licenses are only required for states that require licenses of medical physicists. At the time of writing these include: Florida, Hawaii, New York, and Texas. Attestations are required for practitioners in other states.
Are there a max number of credits that I can get per year for the Continuous Certification program?
No. The number of CME, SA-CE, and SAMs credits counted per year is unlimited. But, remember that each year the look-back reviews three years. So, don’t expect only having to get these credits in three-year cycles. (That is, you can’t get all of your credits in year one and then plan on getting them all again in year five because that will leave a three year extent, years two, three, and four, that don’t have enough credits).
The exception to this is that there is a maximum number of credits that you can count during each year for SDEP credits (which will count towards your SA-CE credit requirement). That maximum is 15 credits (although you don’t have to claim all 15 credits for each SDEP project).
Do SAMs count as SA-CEs? Are all SAMs SA-CEs? Are all SA-CEs SAMS? When is a CE a SAM or an SA-CE?
For your MOC part 2 three-year look-back, you will have needed to complete 50 hours of CEs and 25 hours of SA-CEs (for a total of 75 credits). There are three categories of credits that can fall into the classification of being considered as SA-CEs: SAMs, the so-called “enduring materials” CEs, and SDEPs. To be considered as an “enduring material” CE there has to be: a test with an assigned passing score and a reference to sources that would allow further study.
Can I meet my Part 2 credits requirement by only getting SAMs or SA-CE credits?
Yes, while only 25 of the required 75 credits needed in every three year review need be SA-CEs (of which SAMs are one variety), you could technically meet your requirement by getting them all as SA-CEs. Note, though, that the vice versa of this is not true. If you got all 75 credits as simply CME credits (not SA-CEs) then you would still lack the requirement that 25 of these be SA-CEs.
SAMs are courses, webinars, or presentations that have been predetermined to count as SAMs. SAMs credits can also count as SA-CE credits. CEs may be thought of as regular offerings that CAMPEP has determined can be eligible for continuing education credits. CE credits cannot count towards your SA-CE requirements (of which, SAMs are included).
No, it is not necessary for you to send a report of your SDEP project to the ABR. This is self-attested material. However, if you are one of the “lucky” few picked to be audited then you may need to produce documentation of this project to your auditor. If you are unsure that your SDEP would be sufficient to meet the requirement, you can email the ABR with your project summarized in an outline form, and they will review it for suitability.
Are SDEP credits counted towards my CE goal or my SA-CE goal?
SDEP credits are counted towards your SA-CE goal. This is a decision made by the ABR in 2013 (prior to this, SDEP credits were counted towards the CE goal, but now they count towards the SA-CE 25 credits for every annual look-back reviewing three years).
How do we handle SDEP credits that extend between years?
You can select how many credits to attribute to yourself for each SDEP project (up to a maximum of 15 per year). Furthermore, the myabr mechanism for accounting for these projects only allows a user to count one SDEP project per year. Thus, if you have a project that extends between years, it may be useful to try and break this project up into facets and count them separately.
What is the difference between a PQI project (MOC Part 4) and an SDEP (MOC Part 2)?
An SDEP is an optional educational endeavor that has a maximum of one submission per year for a maximum of 15 credits per submission. The format to be used is as follows: significance, approaches/resources to be utilized, evaluation, and impact on practice. Valid SDEP projects must identify areas that additional education would be of value. The approach to providing this must be prospective in nature. The credits count in your Part 2 requirements.
A PQI project is required to have been done during each annual look-back covering three years. It is, therefore, not optional. Also, the nature of the project is different. A PQI project is used to facilitate improvement in treatment, care, or patient safety. Specific areas of valid PQI emphases include: patient safety, accuracy of interpretations and calculations, report turnaround times, practice guidelines and standards, and surveys. The project applies to your Part 4 requirements.
In some rare circumstances, SDEP projects can be used to satisfy Part 4 MOC PQI requirements.
I’ve heard the term QI-SDEP (Quality Improvement - Self Directed Educational Project) being thrown around by colleagues that have been certified for a while. What is this? Do we really have to do one every ten years!?
The answer to this question is, no, you don’t have to do a QI-SDEP project every ten years in addition to SDEP projects (optional) and PQI projects (required). There was formerly a requirement that an SDEP project needed to be completed every ten years but that was discontinued for the Continuous Certification MOC program.
Can I get all of my continuing education credits in a single year and then coast?
Yes, technically you can. However, you can get into some trouble if you work really hard one year and knock all of your credits out of the way because you’ll have to do the same thing three years later. So, it is strongly advised that you try and get 25 CME credits per year consistently with 8 or 9 of these being SA-CEs. This paradigm is also more in the intended spirit of the “continuous” facet of the program.
I recently went to a vendor provided training course. Can I enter CME credits for this course?
You will receive credits as long as the course is accredited by CAMPEP, the ACR, or the AMA. If this were the case, you could probably expect these credits to transfer automatically via the CME Gateway or directly to the ABR. If they don’t transfer, I would reach out to the organizer of the training course to inquire about the accreditation status. There is also an option to enter credits manually on your myabr account, but you’ll want to make sure that the accreditation is valid.
You can take this exam during any year at the scheduled exam date for that year as long as your oral exam or your last MOC exam was passed less than 10 years ago. Note that the ten year interval effectively resets once you pass the MOC exam. That is, your status is reviewed at 10 year intervals, and you must have either an initial exam pass or an MOC exam pass when your look-back occurs annually reviewing the past 10 years. As an example consider the hypothetical medical physicist who passes his initial certification exam in 2015. If they then pass their MOC exam in 2020, then they’ll need to take another exam by 2030. Do not fall into the pitfall mindset that this is being reviewed every ten years. Under that false mentality, that 2020 exam would have counted for the time period of 2015-2025 and that person may not think they would have to take another exam until the end of the 2025-2035 time period.
Should I expect an email or letter from the ABR to invite me to register for my MOC exam (recertification exam)?
No, do not wait for a notification from the ABR to sign up for the MOC exam. Because you don’t have to wait until the tenth year to take this exam, the ABR doesn’t really know when you’d like to take this exam. Thus, they leave that to you to determine the best time for yourself to take the exam and take the self-initiative to register for the exam.
If you fail an exam, you can take it the following year. Take it as many years as you’d like as long as you pass within your 10 year look-back review extent. If you fail the exam in your 10th year, then your status changes to “Certified, Not Meeting MOC Requirements”. If you don’t pass it in your 11th year, then your status would change to “Not Certified”.
No, you can only take the exam once per year (as it’s only offered on one date per year). This limitation highlights the importance of not waiting until the last moment to take this exam because you will only have a limited number of opportunities to re-attempt the exam should you fail to pass it on your first attempt.
Are there any fees associated with re-taking the MOC exam if I failed it the first time around?
If you don’t pass the MOC Exam the first time, then you are able to take the exam again as long as you still have time in your ten year look-back period. There aren’t any additional fees associated with this (the exam fees are covered by your annual ABR fees). At your annual look-back, the ABR looks to see if you’ve passed the exam in the last ten years (or passed your initial exam). So, some good advice would be not to wait until your tenth year to take the exam (just in case). Rather, take it a couple of years early. The downside of this is that the clock starts from the point that you pass the exam. Thus, if you take it in year one of Continuous Certification, you’ll have to take it again by year eleven (not year twenty).
There is a little bit of a trade-off in answering this question. For example, if you wait longer to take the exam then there will be less time to re-attempt it before your 10 years is up. But, if you take it too early, then you’ll have to take your next exam all the sooner. Thus, we feel that a good compromise might be to take it in your seventh or eighth year along this 10 year review period. This will allow for there to be multiple attempts, should they be necessary, and also ensure that you can maximize, as much as would be safe, the frequency in which you have to take the exam.
Could I wait until my eleventh year to take my MOC exam to get an extra year until I have to take it next time?
Technically, yes, you can wait until your eleventh year to take the MOC exam and still not enter into a status of “Not Certified”. This would, effectively, give you a bonus year from when you’d have to take it again.
However, this is a pretty risky gamble. You’re limiting your chances to take and pass this exam to one attempt. Also, your status would go to “Certified, Not Meeting Requirements” after that year’s look-back. This certification status would be visible should they check on Certification Matters.
Yes, you can do a group PQI project. This can include collaboration between physicists and between physicists and physicians. There are some additional requirements though. There must be a designated group leader. Each participant must have attended at least three documented meetings for credit. And, each participant must have contributed meaningfully to the project and have completed a short paragraph detailing what they did for that project.
What if I completed a PQI project and maintained documentation, but, later, the ABR deemed that it would not satisfy the PQI requirement?
Your status would change to “Certified, Not Meeting MOC Requirements”. If you were to complete a new project in the next year, you could then return to “Meeting Requirements”. Our advice, reach out to the ABR before your look-back to inquire if a project would satisfy the Part 4 requirement. This way you take a more prospective approach instead of retrospectively finding out after the look-back that you are deficient in your MOC.
What happens if I can’t meet my MOC requirements before a scheduled look-back review? Will I lose my hard-earned certification?
Good news...no, you won’t lose your certification. But, you will enter into a status of “Certified, Not Meeting the Requirements of MOC”. During this period, you will be in a built-in catch-up period of one year that will allow for you to make up the needed requirements before you would enter a state of, “Not Certified, Certificate Lapsed”.
I forgot to do something and, on March 15th, I got a status of “Certified, Not Meeting Requirements”. Do I have to wait until the next look-back, on March 15th of the following year, to make this up and change back to “Certified, Meeting Requirements”?
No. There is only one day in the year that you can go from “Meeting Requirements” to “Not Meeting Requirements” and that is March 15th at the time of the annual look-back. But, the vice versa is not true. You can go from “Not Meeting Requirements” to “Meeting Requirements” at any point within the year as long as you make up the deficiencies.
I got a status of “Certified, Not Meeting Requirements”. How long do I have before that turns into “Not Certified”?
If you incur a status of “Certified, Not Meeting Requirements” (which can only happen during the annual look-back), then you have until the next look-back (one calendar year) to make up the deficiency. As soon as you make up that deficiency you will revert to “Certified, Meeting Requirements” (that is, you don’t have to wait until the next look-back to get back into the good graces of the ABR). If you still haven’t corrected deficiencies at the time of the next look-back, then your status will change to “Not Certified”.
I got a status of “Not Certified, Certification Lapsed”. How can I return to being certified?
If for some reason you still could not meet the MOC requirements in the catch up year then your status would become “Not Certified, Certification Lapsed.” You can return to being certified and meeting MOC requirements by contacting the ABR and informing them of your desire to do so. Then, within that calendar year, you must fulfill all the MOC requirements (Parts 1-4) in order to return to a status of “Certified Meeting MOC Requirements.”
I was first enrolled in the 10-year cycle certification program. Is my certificate still valid through the 10 year period?
Yes, the ABR will honor that certificate’s expiration date until the 10 years has concluded. However, if it is determined in your look-back under the Continuous Certification rules that you aren’t meeting the criteria, then your certificate will say, “Certified, Not Meeting the MOC Requirements”. If you still aren’t meeting those requirements after the date of expiration of the current certificate, only at this time will the certificate be changed to read, “Not Certified, Certificate Lapsed”. Even if you have a valid-through date on your certification, it is not recommended that you allow your certificate to lapse to, “Certified, Not Meeting MOC Requirements”.
If I have multiple certifications in different modalities (therapy, diagnostic, and/or nuclear medicine), do my MOC requirements double or triple?
For most of the MOC components, the requirements will not increase with multiple ABR certifications in different areas of concentration. For Part 1, you need only produce one valid license or one attestation. For Part 2, the number of credits would stay constant. For Part 4, you would only need one PQI project every assessed three year period. The exception to this is the Part 3 MOC exam. You would need to take a different exam for each area of concentration.