Sessions to Report Progress in ABAM’s MOC Process

For the addiction medicine specialty to achieve its goals, its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) procedures must be as well established as any in medicine, says American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) President Jeffrey Samet, M.D., M.P.H.

“If ABAM and ASAM want addiction medicine to be accepted as a certified specialty by the rest of the medical establishment, there are certain things we’ve got to do,” Dr. Samet says. “First, we must establish a significant number of accredited residency programs. Second, and this is just as important, we must have our MOC established and running well.”

Dr. Samet says MOC is important because it provides the best way to keep physicians well trained and up to speed on the latest developments in medicine.

“It also goes a long way to assuring the public that its doctors are taking care of business and know what they are doing,” he says.

Today’s Component Session 6, “What is Tested on the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) Certification Exam: How the Core Content of Addiction Medicine Will Be Reflected in the Examination Blueprint,” will explore various topical areas covered on the test, as well as how the test is constructed each year, addressing an appropriate range of topics. This session will be from 4 to 6 p.m., today, in Rooms 206- 207.

Dr. Samet says that the ABAM Exam Committee, chaired by Dr. Michael Weaver, spends a good deal of time and effort making sure that questions fairly assess the knowledge base of the discipline.

“We use the services of the National Board of Medical Examiners, together with selected ABAM Diplomates, to come up with the basis of the test, and then we take that solid piece of material and revise it and update it over time,” he says. “New questions are always being added or revised. Last fall, Exam Committee members were all given the assignment to come up with 20 questions, which had to cover all the topic areas.

“That whole process is rigorous, but the Committee comprises a top-flight team—ASAM Directors representing a number of high-level organizations, heads of training programs—all of them leaders in the field,” he says. “Of course, the whole thing is ‘top secret’ too, because we have to maintain the validity of the test itself.”

Dr. Samet says that Sunday’s Component Session 8, “The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) and Maintenance of Certification. Our Role in the Movement Towards Improved Quality of Care,” will highlight why MOC is important to the specialty. ABAM certification is time-limited for a period of 10 years and is renewed through successful completion of the ABAM Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process. This session will be from 8 to 10 a.m., Sunday, in Rooms 206-207.

“It is imperative that we make sure our physicians are in good standing in the medical community,” Dr. Samet says. “One part of MOC is re-taking the board exam every 10 years. Some Diplomates have time-unlimited certificates, but they are also encouraged to participate in MOC to demonstrate to themselves as well as to others that they are ‘current’ in their knowledge.”

Dr. Samet says that there are challenges in taking a group of physicians who were used to practicing without MOC requirements and then impose a process that feels to some as if they are being constantly “checked up on.”

“MOC is a necessary part of medicine today,” Dr. Samet says, “and maintenance of licensure will soon be upon us all as well.

“There’s no turning back. As long as we don’t make it too arduous of a process, as long as we are pragmatic about it, we will do well as an emerging specialty. Frankly, ABAM has fully embraced this and we are proud to be developing an MOC program that meets the needs of addiction medicine doctors as well as of the larger community that expects MOC from any medical specialty board.”