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11 Ways To Get Involved With the ABO

The impetus for board certification in American medicine did not come from the federal government or even public watchdogs. It arose more than a century ago from practicing physicians like you who wanted to address concerns about the qualifications and training of individuals claiming to be specialists in ophthalmology. In the early 1900s, leaders of our profession came together and established a framework for board certification in a medical specialty that would go on to set a precedent for all board-certified physicians in the United States and serve as a model around the world.

When the ABO was founded in 1916, an ophthalmologist had to be nominated by one of the three sponsoring organizations (the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Medical Association Section on Ophthalmology, or the American Ophthalmological Society) in order to participate in the work of the Board. Today, however, there are many opportunities and avenues for all members of our diplomate community to take an active role in the self-regulation of the profession and the protection of ophthalmic patients.

Here are 11 ways you can get involved with the ABO:

1) Participate in Maintenance of Certification

Regardless of when you achieved board certification, the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program offers ophthalmologists a valid, reliable, and respected means to assess clinical knowledge, judgment, and skills. Along the way, the program encourages participation in CME along with reading current journal articles to help you stay up to date.

Commitment: Varies based on selected activities.

How-To: Visit the ABO website,, (and log in to your status page or) click “Enroll in MOC” to join nearly 12,000 of your peers in this worthwhile program. Email for step-by-step guidance.


2) Help Improve ABO Content

Every item in the new Quarterly Questions assessment program for MOC invites you to evaluate the question’s relevance (e.g. Is this information pertinent to my practice? Should my colleagues know this?) You are also encouraged to submit comments/suggestions for improving the question.

Commitment: A few minutes x 50 questions per year. Simply choose your numerical rating and type your comments in the box.

How-To: Feedback is baked into the Quarterly Questions program. Just start the program and complete the feedback forms along the way.


3) Share Your Improvement Project Success with Your Peers

If you have completed a successful Improvement in Medical Practice project, or you learned/studied something that you think would be worthwhile for other ophthalmologists to know, consider sharing your project template with your peers.

Commitment: Minimal. The ABO will do the work of sharing your project template with other diplomates for the benefit of patients and the profession.

How-To: Write to MOC Coordinator Sheila Refile at


4) Develop a CME Activity that Counts for ABO MOC

As part of the MOC program, board-certified ophthalmologists complete at least 250 CME over the 10 years of their MOC cycle. Using the ACCME CME Finder program, accredited specialty and subspecialty societies, training programs, and ophthalmic institutions around the country can develop their own CME activities that diplomates can select for MOC Part II credit in Lifelong Learning, Self-Assessment, and Patient Safety, or MOC Part IV credit in Improvement in Medical Practice.

Commitment: Varies based on scope of the project/event.

How-To: Contact the ACCME directly or write to MOC Coordinator Sheila Refile at


5) Attend a Diplomate Experience Group

Over the past two years, representatives of the ABO have visited with more than 200 diplomates in over two dozen cities to improve the diplomate experience. Over casual lunches and informal dinners, directors and diplomates have come together around the table to improve certification programs and processes. If you’re interested in joining a future group in your city or having the ABO visit your institution, let the ABO know.

Commitment: Sessions range from 1-3 hours on one day or evening.

How-To: Contact Communications Director Meghan McGowan at


6) Tell Your MOC Story

The ABO routinely reports examination statistics. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Sharing a real-life account about how you’ve advanced your knowledge or improved patient care through MOC could inspire others to do the same and help protect the privilege of professional self-regulation in medicine.

Commitment: Simply be willing to participate in an interview and/or write your story in your own words.

How-To: Contact Communications Director Meghan McGowan at


7) Deliver a Local Presentation

If you belong to a local or state medical society, or you think your peers or residents would benefit from knowing more about board certification, consider leading a presentation or educational workshop on initial certification or MOC.

Commitment: As few as five minutes or up to an hour. The ABO will help you build your talk or learning session.

How-To: Contact Communications Director Meghan McGowan at


8) Become an ABO Liaison

In 2017, in partnership with the profession’s subspecialty societies, the ABO formed a network of subspecialty experts to serve as official ABO Liaisons. These individuals weigh in on ABO matters from the content of the profession’s subspecialties.

Commitment: Varies based on project needs.

How-To: Talk to your society leaders and write to ABO CEO George Bartley at


9) Develop Examination Content

Each year, the ABO forms diverse groups of subject matter experts in ophthalmology to assist in the development of examination content. Actively practicing ophthalmologists from academia, private practice, the military, and the VA contribute to this process. Volunteers are assigned to specific topic areas and use the ABO’s content outlines to write questions according to specific guidelines. They may also assist with other exam development activities, such as content outline development and standard setting. Participants receive lodging at the exam development meeting, meals, reimbursement of travel expenses, and recognition on the ABO website.

Commitment: Substantial. Participants are asked to research and write specific types of questions for ABO examinations, must adhere to deadlines, and attend an annual in-person examination development meeting over 2-3 days. Volunteers should also anticipate participating in webinar training prior to writing examination content and frequent online interactions during the item writing process. Item writers be current in MOC.

How-To: Write to ABO Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Mainardi at


10) Serve as an Oral Examiner

For more than 100 years, ophthalmologists have insisted upon a rigorous two-step process for evaluating knowledge, judgment, and skills in the profession. As you know, following the completion of a written examination, candidates for board certification must sit for the ABO Oral Examination. The administration of this face-to-face examination is a tremendous logistical undertaking. Every year, hundreds of board-certified ophthalmologists travel to the examination site to volunteer their time and talents for the administration of this examination.

Commitment: Substantial. Volunteers should anticipate participating in several hours of virtual training over the course of the year approximately one month prior to the exam along with 2-3 days of in-person service at the Oral Examination. Examiners pay their own travel expenses, but receive lodging and meals. Examiners must actively participate in MOC.

How-To: Write to ABO Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Mainardi at


11) Join the Board of Directors

Directors of the ABO are generally longtime volunteers who have contributed in extraordinary ways to the organization's examination development and administration processes. They are often selected for their specific areas of ophthalmic expertise or other professional competencies (such as finance, governance, or patient safety). The ABO strives to have a board that reflects the diversity of the diplomate community it serves.Directors serve a maximum of two four-year terms.

Commitment: Substantial. Directors participate in at least 3 in-person meetings per year, monthly conference calls, and several hours of committee work on a weekly basis.

How-To: Write to Dr. Julia Stevens, Chair of the ABO Credentials Committee, at

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