How Pediatricians Are Shaping MOCA-Peds

By Laura Brooks, MD

I am a general pediatrician in private practice and one of hundreds of practicing pediatricians who volunteer their time to work on the committees of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). 

Most recently, I was asked to lead the task force for the new assessment, MOCA-Peds, which will be piloted next year. This task force is composed of general pediatricians (outpatient and hospitalists) and specialists maintaining their General Pediatrics certification. We were charged with developing questions, finding references, and writing educational rationales to be used in the pilot. 

In this effort, we were assisted by a content development team, a group of certified pediatricians with no prior ABP involvement who had indicated their interest in participation via the nomination tool available to all diplomates on the ABP website. 

While the primary mission of the ABP is to assure the public by evaluating pediatricians’ competence, MOCA-Peds is an exciting step toward providing additional value to the certified pediatrician. Unlike previous assessments, including the take-home recertification examination, MOCA-Peds will provide immediate feedback, teaching materials, and references for additional learning. Further, this model will allow some tailoring of the questions, depending on the practice profile of the test taker. Unlike the current MOC exam, pilot participants will be able to give feedback to the ABP on individual questions, allowing for continuous improvement of the exam. 

Personally, as a board certified general pediatrician, I am excited about the possibility of an assessment that provides better learning than cramming for an exam every 10 years. Including new and emerging topics will be particularly useful in helping us provide our patients with better care.

In preparing both the exam questions and the educational material for the pilot, the task force grappled with the following issues:

  • How can we provide questions that are more relevant to the individual physician’s practice?
  • What knowledge is considered unique to ambulatory versus inpatient pediatrics?
  • What medical knowledge should all certified pediatricians have, regardless of their practice setting?
  • What medical knowledge should all certified pediatricians have in their heads versus what would most easily be looked up in a reference?
  • How long should the educational material be to provide meaningful information without being burdensome to the participating pediatrician?
  • How can we write questions that are fair without being so easy as to be seen as a meaningless “hoop” to jump through?

In trying to find this balance, more than one committee member said “Wow! This is really hard.”  In the end, these 21 practicing pediatricians produced both questions and learning materials we are hoping will strike the balance between assurance to the public and value to our colleagues. 

We anxiously wait for the opinions of the pilot participants to find out how we can continue to improve in 2018! 

About the AuthorLaura Brooks, MD

Laura Brooks, MD, a general pediatrician in private practice in Lynchburg, Va., chairs the American Board of Pediatrics' MOCA-Peds Task Force. She is a past chair of the ABP Board of Directors, and also has served on numerous other ABP committees, where she developed expertise in writing questions for ABP exams.