Continuous Certification Program

In an effort to move to a continuous certification process, ABPS announces dramatic changes in 2019.


The American Board of Plastic Surgery will institute sweeping changes in response to diplomate concerns regarding the burden, cost and relevance of the current Maintenance of Certification in Plastic Surgery (MOC-PS) Program.


Some of the planned changes for 2019 include:


Testing from home rather than travelling to a test center.

The 4 modular continuous certification exams (Hand, Cosmetic, Craniofacial and Comprehensive) will be Internet-based. Diplomates may log in as often as necessary during the month of April to complete the 200 questions from the comfort of their home.

  • Pre-test studying time dramatically reduced. Pertinent content for each question will now be incorporated into the exam. After answering a question, the diplomate will be directed to the rationale. After reading the rationale, the diplomate will be offered an additional opportunity to answer the question correctly if incorrectly answered on the first attempt.


Transitioning to Longitudinal Learning.

Diplomates at the end of their current cycle must take an internet based examination to renew certification. As previously announced, rather than travelling to a testing center, diplomates will take this examination from the comfort of their home or office. Preparation time is reduced because the rationales are provided within the examination for each question and diplomates have more than one opportunity to answer correctly.


In 2019, the Board will introduce a pilot program to test a new longitudinal learning format of shorter annual assessments (Knowledge Check-ins) focused on identifying knowledge gaps and linking to educational resources. Adult education research has demonstrated that repeated exposure to information results in better retention than periodic testing.


When the pilot is completed, diplomates will be able to participate in 8 out of 10 years of Knowledge Check-ins to receive an exemption to the 10-year exam. This program is voluntary during the pilot years. Diplomates should strongly consider starting the longitudinal learning assessment program in 2019 so they can accumulate the maximal number of knowledge check-ins prior to the end of their 10-year cycle.


Annual Certification Fee.

The ABPS will convert to a single annual fee that is a 15% reduction of the current 10-year total fee structure. The new annual certification fee of $395 will begin in 2019 for all diplomates regardless of the year of expiration for their current cycle, with no additional fees being charged for MOC activities or the exam. The ABPS will continue efforts to reduce fees as we progress through these changes.


Reduced Reporting.

The Professionalism requirements will be reduced to reporting twice during the 10-year cycle rather than three times. A Professional Standing Update will be required in Year 3 of the 10-year cycle and a Professionalism Audit will replace the Examination Application in Year 9. Additionally, the Practice Improvement component (Tracer Procedure Log) will be reduced to twice during the 10-year cycle. 


Ten-year Cycles

The new Continuous Certification program will continue to utilize a 10-year cycle and all current certificates remain valid through their expiration dates. All diplomates will maintain their current status within their current cycle and all dated certificates will maintain their full 10 years.


Additional details will be shared in the coming months as development of the new internet testing platform continues. The ABPS 2018 Hand Recertification Exam will be the first exam administered in the new format from August 29 – September 11, 2018. The new internet based MOC Exams will be administered in April 2019.


The ABPS appreciates all those diplomates who provided feedback and is pleased to offer these changes to make continuous certification less burdensome, more relevant and more valuable.


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact the Board Office at We appreciate your feedback.


The ABMS has launched an initiative, Continuing Board Certification: Vision for the Future, to help develop a continuous certification system that is "meaningful, contemporary and relevant."  Additional information can be found here.