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ABP to pilot changes to MOC exam in 2017 :

June 7, 2016

Some general pediatricians soon will have the flexibility to choose when and where to answer Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam questions and how many to tackle in one sitting.

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is piloting an electronic version of the MOC Part 3 assessment that would quiz pediatricians every quarter beginning in January 2017. The Maintenance of Certification Assessment for Pediatrics (MOCA-Peds) eventually could replace the current model of taking the exam once every 10 years at a testing center.

“We can capitalize on the fact that there have been advances in technology that will allow us to assess differently,” said ABP Vice President of Psychometrics and Assessment Services Linda Althouse, Ph.D. “And we feel that we can now use that to also allow learning to happen so we’re just not assessing.”

The exam is one of four components in the MOC process administered by the ABP. Pediatricians have been vocal about their opposition to going to a testing center and not being able to use resources to answer the questions. Some also have said they do not feel the questions are relevant to their practice.

The ABP gathered experts at a conference last year to discuss the exam and announced changes were in the works. Since January, focus groups made up of several hundred randomly selected pediatricians have been providing additional input through an outside consultant, and the ABP has tweaked the plans accordingly.

Participants in the voluntary pilot — general pediatricians who are due to take the exam in 2017 — will need to answer 20 multiple choice questions every three months. They can choose when to answer the questions and how many to answer at a time.

The time allotted for each question is still under discussion but could be up to five minutes. Pediatricians will be allowed to use resources, but officials said due to the nature of the questions, doing so shouldn’t be necessary.

“I think they’ll like the fact that they don’t have to cram for an exam,” Dr. Althouse said. “They’re going to find it’s more integrated into their practice. They’re going to find it’s more meaningful because of that.”

More questions will be in the format of clinical vignettes than on the traditional exam, and content will be customized for inpatient and outpatient pediatricians. The questions also will have an educational component providing diplomates with the rationale for the correct answer and resources if they’d like to know more.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has been supportive of moving MOC Part 3 to a more meaningful, educational, and respectful platform,” AAP President Benard P. Dreyer, M.D., FAAP, said. “This will go a long way to address the concerns of pediatricians about Part 3. We are thankful to the ABP for responding to the concerns of pediatricians about the present secure examination.”

Diplomates would be considered passing or failing on a five-year cycle, the same timeframe as other parts of MOC. They will receive regular updates on their progress throughout the cycle.

The ABP expects to pilot the new exam format for two years and study input from diplomates who participate. It also is considering how to account for life events that may interfere with the continuous testing.

“We’re looking at making sure we have some flexibility to accommodate for that,” Dr. Althouse said.

Only general pediatricians who are due to take their exam in 2017 are eligible for the pilot program. Enrollment will begin in the fall at no extra cost. Pediatricians who prefer to take the traditional exam at a testing center may choose to do so instead.

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