top of page

Get to Know the 2019 American Board of Ophthalmology Maintenance of Certification Program

Excellence begins at board certification, but it doesn’t end there. For physicians, what it means to be excellent advances with every new discovery and technological breakthrough. To offer patients the highest levels of care in ophthalmology, board-certified ophthalmologists adapt and improve on a lifelong continuum. So, too, does the program for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). What started as a regimented sequence of activities and assessments in the 1990s has evolved into a flexible, customizable menu of activities designed to help physicians sharpen their knowledge about the clinical topics relevant to them and establish a personal definition for what excellence means in their daily practice.

As a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the ABO adheres to the ABMS four-part structure for MOC. Here is an overview of the ABO MOC program for 2019:


Part I: Professionalism and Professional Standing

What is it?

Professionalism is woven into the fabric of who you are as a board-certified ophthalmologist. To uphold the value of board certification, this component of MOC confirms that all remains well with your license(s) to practice medicine.

What do I have to do?

Maintain a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in each state in which you hold a license. The ABO receives periodic updates from state medical licensing boards. If a licensing board issue arises, please keep the ABO informed about the status of your license(s).

What does this do for me?

Ensuring that all ABO diplomates maintain valid, unrestricted medical licenses keeps you in the company of board-certified colleagues who share your commitment to professional, ethical practice.

Any tips or suggestions?

Let the ABO know any time there is a change in your licensure status, if you are moving to a new state, or if you have decided to retire from medical practice.


Part II: Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment

What is it?

Enhance your knowledge using the learning and assessment activities of your choice. You are encouraged to pursue options relevant to your practice and clinical interests. All diplomates complete a total of at least 250 AMA PRA Category 1™ credits during their 10-year MOC cycle. Diplomates whose certificates expire after December 31, 2020 complete 80 Self-Assessment CME credits and do a patient safety activity as part of their 10-year total.

What do I have to do?

You may earn CME from the accredited providers of your choice. The ABO does not require you to upload course certificates or CME transcripts – simply log in to the ABO website and attest to completion of the required number of credits. If your certificate expires on or before December 31, 2020, you’ll attest once at the end of your cycle. All other diplomates attest every 2 years. The attestation process can be completed in 3 minutes or less.

What does it do for me?

This step of MOC encourages you to focus your attention on what topics best serve you and your patients. What would you like to learn about today? Is there a meeting you can attend that would enrich your patient care knowledge? What clinical interests do you want to explore?

Any tips or suggestions?

  • 2019 Quarterly Questions participation be claimed for CME/SACME credit and as your patient safety activity for the cycle (with the selection of patient safety-themed articles).

  • You can also use the new CME Finder tool to locate accredited non-ABO activities that count for ABO MOC Credit in Lifelong Learning, Self-Assessment, and/or Patient Safety.


Part III: Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills

What is it?

As of December 31, 2018, the DOCK Examination will be discontinued. The Quarterly Questions program is the new longitudinal assessment pathway for all ABO diplomates in MOC. Quarterly Questions is an online assessment program that can be completed at your own pace. Content is based on clinical ophthalmic knowledge and peer-reviewed journal articles. New questions are created each year by hundreds of practicing ophthalmologist volunteers and released in quarterly segments. Participants receive instant performance feedback with links to learning resources. You can learn more about the program structure at

What do I have to do?

  • If your certificate expires on or before December 31, 2020, you will need to meet the annual passing standard on 3 years of the Quarterly Questions activity within your 10-year cycle*.

  • If your certificate expires on or after December 31, 2021, you will need to meet the annual passing standard on 5 years of the Quarterly Questions activity within your 10-year cycle.

*Temporary extensions may be granted to complete Quarterly Questions. See policy for details.

What does it do for me?

  • Helps improve everyday practice knowledge in the subspecialty area(s) of your choice

  • Builds new clinical knowledge through the reading of “must-read” peer-reviewed journal articles identified through collaborations with the major ophthalmic subspecialty societies.

  • Reveals insights about your performance and how it compares (anonymously) to your peers.

  • Awards CME/SACME credit for successful participation through a joint providership agreement with the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  • Article selection can be customized to count for Part II: Patient Safety and Part IV: Improvement in Medical Practice requirements.

Any tips or suggestions?

  • The Quarterly Questions program is accessible online at your convenience. Since questions are timed, we recommend doing the activity when you are in a quiet, distraction-free environment.

  • Knowledge questions should not require advance preparation; however, the subjects listed in the ABO MOC Content Outline can help you create a study outline.

  • Thoroughly read the articles before attempting the associated questions. All journal articles are accessible at no cost via the Quarterly Questions platform.

  • You can review your entire question-and-answer history at any time in the Question History tab in the Quarterly Questions platform.


Part IV: Improvement in Medical Practice

What is it?

Improvement in Medical Practice activities are designed to encourage the ongoing assessment and improvement of patient care in ophthalmology. “Part IV” activities, as they are commonly known, help you build the skills to measure and improve areas of your practice according to the evidence-based science of quality improvement.

What do I have to do?

Diplomates whose certificates expire on or before December 31, 2020 complete 1 of the following options; all other diplomates complete 2 activities:

  • Read Quality Improvement Articles Through Quarterly Questions: Meet the requirements for one Improvement in Medical Practice activity as part of the Quarterly Questions program. The article-based portion of Quarterly Questions is offered in the third quarter of each year and requires selection of 5 journal articles and answering 2 questions per article. Choosing 3 designated quality improvement articles and answering the questions while completing the Quarterly Questions program will count as 1 Part IV Improvement activity.

  • Choose a Quality Improvement CME Activity: The ABO has partnered with the Accreditation Council of Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to simplify the integration of MOC and accredited CME. This collaboration expands the number and diversity of accredited CME activities that meet the ABO’s requirements for MOC, including Part IV: Improvement in Medical Practice. Use the CME Finder program to search for ABO-approved Part IV activities. The ACCME system will report your activity completion to the ABO.

  • Create Your Own Improvement in Medical Practice Activity: Design your own Improvement in Medical Practice activity using a standard quality improvement methodology, such as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Options include creating an individualized project unique to your practice or adopting a project developed by a group practice, academic department, healthcare system, or a local, regional, or national medical society or organization. You will need to submit a brief project description before commencing the activity along with a summary report after the activity has been completed.

  • Participate in the American Board of Medical Specialties Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program: If your institution is a Portfolio Sponsor through the ABMS Multi-Specialty Portfolio Program, you can complete an improvement activity using this team-based, organizational pathway.

What does it do for me?

Participation in an Improvement in Medical Practice activity opens a new window into your practice patterns and outcomes. Perhaps you’ll spot a trend in your practice data that you hadn’t noticed before or a performance gap you could close with the implementation of a simple intervention.

Any tips or suggestions?

  • Consider the quality-themed article readings in the Quarterly Questions program as your first activity to build a strong knowledge foundation about the science of quality improvement.

  • Wrap up Part IV activities prior to Year 8 of your 10-year cycle to avoid running into an end-of-cycle time crunch.

  • Use the new CME Finder in 2019 to locate accredited non-ABO activities that count for ABO MOC Part IV credit.

  • Find inspiration in the collection of past self-directed improvement projects on the ABO website.


Additional Information

  • What about the DOCK Examination? This examination for MOC will not be offered after December 31, 2018. If you’ve already completed the DOCK during your current 10-year cycle, it will count as your assessment. When your next 10-year certificate is issued, you will begin the Quarterly Questions program and complete it over the course of your new 10-year cycle.

  • How many times do I need to do Quarterly Questions and when should I start? Click here to determine your requirements.

  • Where are the PORTs? Periodic Ophthalmic Review Tests (PORTs) were self-assessment companions for the DOCK Examination. Without the DOCK, these modules are neither necessary nor offered.

  • Is there still an ABO Patient Safety Activity? No; this component can be satisfied through articles provided in the Quarterly Questions program.

  • Don’t I have to complete a PIM? Not anymore. The Improvement in Medical Practice menu has been revised to include new options that allow for greater flexibility in learning and improvement. If you have already completed a Practice Improvement Module (PIM), it will still count for credit in your current MOC cycle.

  • Do I still have to submit my CME documentation? No. You’ll use your ABO MOC Status page to attest to meeting the Part II requirements for MOC. No CME certificates or transcripts are required.

  • How can I get help understanding my MOC requirements? Contact the ABO Office at 610-664-1175 or

bottom of page