What is the ABMS?
ABMS stands for the American Board of Medical Specialties. According to the ABMS*, the ABMS assists medical specialty boards, of which there are currently 24, to develop and use standards in the evaluation and certification of physicians. In particular, the ABMS has developed a set of standards for medical specialty boards to use in establishing "maintenance of certification" (MOC) programs.
While the process of becoming board certified in a field of medicine provides assurance that the doctor has completed a rigorous program of formal training in his or her field of care, MOC/Maintenance of Certification programs are designed to ensure that the board certified doctor is continuing to stay abreast with the latest science and most current evidence-based methods for providing quality care within the particular field. With this in mind, the ABMS has developed a four-part process, which has become the "gold standard" in health care for ensuring that the practitioner is engaged in program of "life-long" learning. The ABCO has adopted the ABMS standards the ABMS recommends for medicine in establishing an its own Maintenance of ABCO Certification program. Like the ABMS programs in medicine, the ABCO-MOC process is designed to provide and establish a curriculum for optometric life-long learning.
Unlike many other health care specialties, Optometrists in every state, as a condition of license renewal, are required to obtain continuing education to ensure that the are staying current with the latest developments in the profession of optometry. The ABCO-MOC process goes several steps further than the license renewal requirements by standardizing the amount of continuing education, adding interactive SAM and PPM requirements, and requiring an examination to ascertain cognitive expertise every 10 years. Completion of the ABCO-MOC process provides further assurance to the public that ABCO certified doctors are maintaining the knowledge and skills required to provide current evidence-based eye care.
Here are the standards for the four-part maintenance of certification process which the ABMS has developed and recommended for medicine and the medical specialty boards, and how ABCO has implemented them into its ABCO-MOC process:
Part I -Professional Standing
Medical specialists must hold a valid, unrestricted medical license in at least one state or jurisdiction in the United States, its territories or Canada.
The ABCO requires a valid, unrestricted license to practice optometry in at least one state or jurisdiction in the United States, its territories or Canada.
Part II-Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
Physicians participate in educational and self-assessment programs that meet specialty-specific standards that are set by their member board.
The ABCO requires its certified optometrists to complete 125 hours of continuing education every five years, and to participate in and complete a computer-based Self Assessment Module (SAM) designed to engage the doctor in an interactive self-assessment and improvement program.
Part III-Cognitive Expertise
They demonstrate, through formalized examination, that they have the fundamental, practice-related and practice environment-related knowledge to provide quality care in their specialty.
The ABCO requires each of its certified optometrists to take and pass, once every 10 years, a formalized examination which focuses on changes and new information related to the practice of optometry to ensure that the doctor has the fundamental knowledge necessary to provide quality eye care.
Part IV-Practice Performance Assessment
They are evaluated in their clinical practice according to specialty-specific standards for patient care. They are asked to demonstrate that they can assess the quality of care they provide compared to peers and national benchmarks and then apply the best evidence or consensus recommendations to improve that care using follow-up assessments.
The ABCO requires each of its certified optometrists to participate in and complete a computer-based practice performance module (PPM) based on an evaluation of patient records and patient care delivered to a random sampling of patients to determine if the doctor is providing quality care according to current standards, to identify potential weaknesses in the doctor's practice, and to improve patient care.
* ABMS MOC and criteria are the property of and copyrighted by the ABMS. "ABMS MOC" is a trademark of the ABMS. Please see http://www.abms.org for full information. ABMS has not endorsed or approved, and is not affiliated with ABCO.