MOC News and Announcements

Information regarding the 2017 MOC Adaptive Learning Tool will be available soon

MOC December 31, 2016 deadline date

If you were certified in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013; your MOC cycle deadline date to have all requirements complete was December 31, 2016.  For information regarding the Grace Period email

MOC Changes in 2015

Vincent C. Traynelis, MD
Chair, Maintenance of Certification Committee
Anthony L. Asher, MD
Chair, Technology & Quality Improvement Committee

This information is extremely important for ABNS Diplomates participating in MOC.  Please review it carefully.  It contains the changes in the program that become effective in 2015.

Over a year ago, the ABMS announced their proposed new MOC standards for January 2015.  The following information is to detail the 2015 ABNS MOC program and will be shown on the website once it has been updated.  Notwithstanding, it is the responsibility of all Diplomates to be cognizant of these important changes. 

Each MOC cycle will continue to be 10-years, comprised of three 3-year mini-cycles (years 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9), plus a 10th year.  To be considered an active participant in MOC, a Diplomate must meet on an ongoing basis the requirements of each mini-cycle.  During each one, they must submit evidence of the following in a manner set forth by the Board: 

  1. Professionalism and Professional Standing
  2. Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
  3. Assessment of Knowledge, Skills, and Judgment 
  4. Improvement in Medical Practice  


Part I - Professionalism and Professional Standing
There are no Substantial Changes in the Requirements for each Mini-Cycle.

  • Chief of Staff Questionnaire – A questionnaire confirming the Diplomate’s professional standing is completed by the Chief of the Medical Staff at the Diplomate’s primary hospital.  This is automatically sent out when an MOC participant completes an application for a new mini-cycle.
  • Hospital Privileges – Diplomates must demonstrate that they have maintained unrestricted privileges at their primary hospital.  The Chief of Staff Questionnaire covers this requirement.  Privileges need not encompass the full range of neurosurgery but must not be (or have been) restricted in any way pursuant to formal or informal hospital disciplinary proceedings, or relinquished, withdrawn, or not renewed in settlement of or to avoid hospital disciplinary proceedings.  Diplomates must notify the Board if they have any actions against or restrictions imposed upon their privileges at any hospital or health care facility.  The Board at its discretion will determine whether the action or restriction constitutes non-compliance with the Professional Standing requirement during that mini-cycle.
  • Licensure –Diplomates must maintain full, unrestricted, medical licenses in all jurisdictions in which they practice.  The Chief of Staff Questionnaire also covers this requirement.  Notwithstanding, Diplomates must notify the Board about any action concerning their licenses.

Part II - Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Some Moderate Changes were made in the Requirements for each mini-cycle.

  1. CME – Diplomates must earn at least 150 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.  A minimum of 60 must be AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ in neurosurgery.
  2. Safety Module – Diplomates must complete the ABNS Safety Module. 
  3. Self-Assessment – The change here is that four activities are now offered; in the past only SANS was available.  Diplomates must complete one approved activity chosen from the following four:

    • AANS MOC Preparation and Neurosurgical Update: An Interactive Case-Based Review
    • AANS Neurosurgery Knowledge Update (published by Thieme)
    • CNS SANS MOC Board Review Course
    • Self-Assessment in Neurological Surgery (SANS)

Part III - Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills
Major Changes have been made.
By ABMS mandate, Diplomates must demonstrate evidence of cognitive knowledge once during each 10-year MOC cycle.  This is done by passing the ABNS clinically based Cognitive Examination.  It may be taken during the 8th, 9th or 10th year of the cycle, although the 8th year is recommended.  Prior to taking the examination, the applicant must meet these criteria:

  • Active, continuous participation in the MOC program, or successful reinstatement if there was a period of non-participation
  • Current on all ABNS dues
  • Payment of the examination fee

Diplomates who do not pass the Examination are encouraged to retake it the next year, as long as they are still within their 10-year MOC cycle.  The examination fee must be paid each time it is taken. 

The key change in Part III is that, beginning with Friday, March 20, 2015 exam, examinees do not travel to neurosurgical residency programs.  Diplomates will take the exam from any computer – for instance in their offices or homes.  In addition, while examinees may not get help from anyone, access to reference materials will not be restricted; it is an open book test.  On applying to take the examination, a Diplomate must assign a person to be his or her proctor.  Prior to the exam, that individual will participate in an on-line training session and “certify” the exam computers.  A proctor with IT experience is optimal.  Applications were due in the ABNS office January 9th. 

Part IV - Improvement in Medical Practice
Again, Major Changes have been made.
Part IV has been affected the most by changes.  First of all, although MOC functions with a 3-year mini-cycle framework, one activity from Part IV must be done each year.  Diplomates must be engaged in an activity focused on improving medical practice every year.  A variety of options exist.  Initially in 2015 they are:

  • Logging Key Cases
  • Participation in a registry
  • Participation in a quality improvement project
  • Participation in Morbidity and Mortality Conferences
  • Authoring a clinical manuscript

The options are outlined below.  Completion of just one annually will fulfill the requirement.

  1. Key Cases – These are already well known.  Participants submit details of ten consecutive cases in an area selected from a list of procedures established by the Board.  If a Diplomate practices a subspecialty not represented, he or she may, upon approval by the chair of the MOC Committee, submit details of twelve cases from his or her most frequent procedure (the format to be used is provided by the Board).  At its discretion, the ABNS may perform audits to confirm the accuracy of Diplomate data.  The Key Cases will be phased out within a few years. 
  2. Registries – Participation in a registry requires that certain details of at least fifteen cases be entered.  Registries that Diplomates already use would have to be vetted by the ABNS for possible use.  They must have the following characteristics:

    • Be cooperative and multi-institutional
    • Benchmark outcomes
    • Create individual reports yearly
    • Have a method to minimize bias in data collection
    • Have risk adjustment
    • Include important patient demographics
    • Publish database elements and results
    • Allow the ABNS to audit the information.

  3. Quality Improvement – These projects must have obvious relevance to neurosurgery.  Each must be approved by the ABNS MOC Committee, and local individuals must document the Diplomate’s satisfactory participation.
  4. Morbidity and Mortality Conferences – A number of criteria must be fulfilled to obtain credit for participation in M&M Conferences. 

    • They must be held at least monthly, if not more frequently
    • They must include a comprehensive case review with full discussion of cases
    • The Diplomate must attend at least 75% of the conferences
    • Participation must be verified in writing by the individual in charge of the Conference (Chair, Quality Director, Program Director, etc.).  He or she must document the Diplomate’s attendance at the required number of Conferences for the experience to fulfill the requirement

  5. Manuscript – Authoring a paper published in a peer reviewed journal completes this requirement.  The paper must contain generalizable knowledge related to efficacy, safety, or value of neurological services.  It must be more than a case report, and if a clinical series is presented, at least five patients must be included.  Credit will be awarded the year the paper is accepted for publication or the following year, at the discretion of the Diplomate.  The MOC Committee will make the final decision as to whether a manuscript adequately fulfills the criteria.