Maintenance of Certification

    Recognition of Focused Practice in Hospital Medicine

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    Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians (MC-FP)

    Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians (MC-FP) is the process that provides the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) with the means to continually assess Diplomates. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), sensing growing and repeated threats from outside the medical field, determined that ABMS specialists within every discipline should be required to meet the highest standards of accountability. In response, the ABMS designed a process called Maintenance of Certification, and each specialty board within the ABMS agreed to adhere to a set structure in developing their individual programs. This structure consists of four components, each designed to assess important physician characteristics: professionalism (Part I), self-assessment and lifelong learning (Part II), cognitive expertise (Part III), and performance in practice (Part IV). Although these elements are similar to and consistent with the ABFM's long-standing recertification program, MC-FP stresses the importance of ongoing participation in activities that evaluate each of these components between recertification examinations. MC-FP is a requirement that the ABFM believes encourages clinical excellence and benefits both physicians and their patients.

    The ABFM's roll-out of MC-FP was designed to gradually transition all Diplomates into the program by 2010, enrolling all physicians who certify or recertify as they successfully pass the examination. The first group entered MC-FP in 2004 and was comprised of those physicians who certified or recertified in 2003. The last group entered the program in 2010 and was comprised of those physicians who certified or recertified in 2009.

    Under the current MC-FP program, each certified Diplomate must successfully complete a series of modules in three separate 3-year windows, called "stages." Completing these requirements in a timely manner within the first two stages will allow Diplomates to extend the life of their certificate from 7 to 10 years. If a Diplomate is unable or chooses NOT to meet the requirements of Stage One and/or Stage Two, the 7-year certificate remains valid, but six Part II modules and one Part IV module must be successfully completed within the 7 years preceding the Part III cognitive examination. To be considered current in MC-FP on the 7-year cycle, a Diplomate must complete one module per year. In addition to completing the modules, Diplomates are required to maintain a valid, full, and unrestricted license and to earn 300 credit hours of CME during the 6 years prior to the cognitive examination.

    The requirements for Stage One
    Completion of three Part II modules (Self-Assessment Modules [SAMs]) OR two Part II modules and one Part IV module (Performance in Practice Module [PPM] or Methods in Medicine Module [MIMM], or approved Part IV module developed by an outside vendor). 

    Any Diplomate who has not yet entered MC-FP will do so after their next successful rectification. At that time, they will be eligible to earn a 3-year extension to their certificate.

    The requirements for Stages Two and Three
    Completion of two Part II modules (SAMs) and one Part IV module (PPM or MIMM, or approved Part IV module developed by an outside vendor).

    Upon successful completion of Stage Two—after the sixth year—the Diplomate will be granted a 3-year extension to the 7-year certificate.

    Diplomates may apply for the recertification examination in either the ninth or tenth year of their certification cycle. However, all Stage Three requirements must be complete to be eligible for the examination.

    If a Diplomate is unable or chooses not to meet the requirements of Stage One and/or Stage Two, the 7-year certificate remains valid, but six Part II modules and one Part IV module must be successfully completed in the 7 years preceding the Part III cognitive examination. To be considered current in MC-FP on the 7-year cycle, a Diplomate must complete one module per year.

    Modules in each 3-year stage can be completed at the Diplomate's own pace. Only three modules can be completed in any given stage for MC-FP credit. It is not necessary to notify the ABFM of the intention to pursue the 10-year certificate. We will monitor MC-FP progress and send reminders to Diplomates to complete certain requirements before each stage deadline passes.

    NOTE: Diplomates may access a full description of the MC-FP four main components, payment information, frequently asked questions, and their MC-FP Track Your Progress page by clicking on the appropriate link in the lower right panel of this screen.

    Diplomates also may access more information about how to pursue the 10-year certificate at mcfp.theabfm.org.

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