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MOCA-Peds Available as Assessment Option

By David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

Thanks to the impressive and collegial work of more than 11,000 pediatricians who are volunteering their time and insights, ABP diplomates will have a new option for knowledge assessment, Maintenance of Certification Assessment for Pediatrics (MOCA-Peds), beginning in 2019.

MOCA-Peds is an online assessment program that also incorporates more opportunity for learning than the traditional exam taken at a secure testing center.  As participants answer each question (whenever and wherever they choose), they find out immediately whether their answer was correct and get a rationale for the right answer.   

The ABP launched MOCA-Peds as a pilot in January 2017. Based on experience with the pilot, we are confident that the platform provides a reliable measure of the knowledge that a pediatrician should possess.  We will continue to pilot MOCA-Peds in 2018, adjusting the platform based on experiences of about 11,000 pediatricians participating in 2017 and 2018.

Beginning in 2019, MOCA-Peds will be an option for satisfying the MOC assessment requirement (Part 3). To pass, pediatricians will answer up to 20 questions quarterly in years 1-4 of each 5-year MOC cycle. To account for life events that may sometimes prevent a pediatrician from effectively participating in MOCA-Peds, the four lowest scoring quarters from those 4 years will be excluded automatically when determining if a pediatrician has met the passing standard.

Because MOCA-Peds is also a learning experience, the ABP also will offer life-long learning credit (Part 2) to MOCA-Peds participants for each year they meet the passing standard.

The cost of MOCA-Peds is included in the MOC fee. However, if pediatricians prefer not to participate, they will have the option to take the proctored exam at a secure testing center. Pediatricians who do not meet the passing standard for MOCA-Peds also will be able take the proctored exam to continue to maintain certification, so that no one would lose certification over a single failure in MOCA-Peds. (A modest additional fee will cover the costs charged by the testing center and administrative expenses.)  

“Keeping up” with medical advances instead of “catching up”

To remain certified, pediatricians are required to either pass MOCA-Peds or a proctored exam every five years. This is a change from the former requirement of passing the proctored exam at a secure testing facility every 10 years, aligning with the requirement to complete other MOC activities every five years.  With the rapid changes in medical knowledge, a 10-year examination is no longer a sufficient way of assessing that one is keeping up with advances. We are grateful that so many more pediatricians are now volunteering to participate in developing and testing MOC processes, which helps keep assessments and other requirements relevant and up-to-date.

We and the overwhelming majority of the pilot participants are very optimistic that MOCA-Peds will be an efficient and effective tool for learning as well as assessment. As one of our pediatrician volunteers described it, “We’ll be ‘keeping up’ instead of ‘catching up.’”

Not everyone starts MOCA-Peds in 2019

Pediatricians will automatically be enrolled in MOCA-Peds at the start of an MOC cycle, but the year each person starts will depend on when their next assessment and other MOC requirements are due. Pediatricians may log onto their portfolios from to find out what year they may start MOCA-Peds. If they continue to participate in MOCA-Peds and continue to meet the passing standard in each MOC cycle, then they will not have to take a proctored exam at a secure testing facility to maintain their certification.

MOCA-Peds for Subspecialists

This goes for subspecialists as well. We will soon offer MOCA-Peds for all 15 pediatric subspecialty certifications. The first subspecialty versions will be available beginning in 2019. Then, each year through 2022, we will roll out three or four additional subspecialty versions. Beginning in 2018, exam due dates for all subspecialists will be postponed until MOCA-Peds is available in their subspecialty. MOCA-Peds will be available in 2019 for Child Abuse Pediatrics, Gastroenterology and Infectious Disease certificates as well as General Pediatrics.

Learn more

Additional information is available on our website as Frequently Asked Questions, videos, sample questions and more.

If you have specific questions, please contact us at or call (919) 929-0461.

About the Author

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA

David G. Nichols, MD, MBA is the President & CEO of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). As leader of the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) staff and a member of the non-profit organization's Board of Directors, Dr. Nichols actively promotes high quality health care for children by upholding the standards of certification in pediatrics, and by encouraging and facilitating initiatives in quality improvement. Although he assumed his new leadership role in late 2012, he has been associated with the ABP for more than 20 years. He is board certified in general pediatrics and is board certified and maintaining certification in pediatric critical care medicine.