Updated Continuing Certification Standards Will Be Nothing New for Diplomates
By Brent Wagner, MD, MBA, ABR Executive Director
As we reported in our last issue, beginning in January 2024, the new American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) Continuing Certification (MOC) standards will be put into place for ABR diplomates.
The transition is not likely to be noticed, because the ABR implemented these improvements, beginning several years ago, to provide increased relevance and enhanced formative (educational) functions. Additionally, there will be no new requirements for diplomates who are meeting the passing standard in Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA).
The OLA user survey we posted in April received more than 4,700 responses. Seventy-two percent of diplomates agreed or strongly agreed that OLA positively impacts their daily clinical work, 79% responded that OLA helps them identify clinical knowledge gaps, and 76% said that OLA helps them remediate clinical knowledge gaps. The overall satisfaction rating was 4.2 on a five-point scale.
As part of our efforts to continuously improve, we recently introduced systematic detailed feedback to the question-writing committees, drawing from thousands of comments our diplomates have offered on the OLA platform, and we are discussing potential enhancements for 2024.
OLA participation is flexible, but, in most cases, the ABR requires 52 responses per year (of 104 opportunities) to avoid “forfeits” — unanswered questions that are counted as incorrect. More than 90% of diplomates are answering at least 52 questions a year. As an indication of the voluntary level of engagement with the program, 17% (averaged across all four disciplines) answer every available opportunity (twice as many as the required minimum) and more than 30% answer at least 30 questions over and above their required 52.
When a diplomate answers an OLA question incorrectly, the algorithm delivers a “variant” (a similar – but not identical – item) within a few weeks. As an indicator of the effectiveness of spaced repetition in support of the formative function of OLA, 75% of diplomate answers to the variants are correct. This allows diplomates to demonstrate that they have addressed a knowledge gap — a key function of OLA.
Among those actively participating in OLA — defined as diplomates who answered more than half of the required questions in 2022 — more than 90% are meeting the passing standard.
As a reminder, the passing standard is determined by a difficulty rating established by those participating in OLA (i.e., professional peers). Click here for more information regarding the standard-setting process.
We have reached out to a small number of diplomates who may have to take an exam before the end of 2024 because they have not met OLA passing standards.