The most valuable credentials require periodic re-certifications or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) in order to ensure that the certified individuals are still maintaining the standards set forth by the certifying organization. MOC requirements vary between industries, and even between specialties within a specific field. To confuse matters, there is also the ongoing upkeep of Continuing Education (CE) requirements that many professionals are obligated to complete.
So, what's the difference between MOC and CE?
Any activity that assists in your professional development can broadly be considered to contribute to Continuing Education (CE). This could include conference attendance, participating in a webinar, taking a class or completing an online training module.
That is the broad definition.
But many certified individuals are required to meet periodic CE requirements in order to satisfy the needs of local or state organizations. Many doctors are required to complete CE to maintain hospital privileges, and similar situations arise in other industries. While these CE credits can sometimes apply to Maintenance of Certification, they often do not.
MOC almost always includes an element of CE, whether or not those Continuing Education credits overlap with the CE requirements of organizations outside of a certifying board. But one of the biggest, and most frequent, differences we see between CE and MOC, is that Maintenance of Certification generally requires an assessment.
Many professionals can receive CE credit simply through attending an approved activity. While MOC programs might credit an individual for that time, attendance alone does not suffice for continued certification. The board will generally require the individual to prove their knowledge through an exam or other process of verification.
As we mentioned before, these two activities - CE and MOC - overlap sometimes. When that happens, it's certainly a welcome sight to the professional looking to keep their credentials up-to-date. One of the biggest complaints from certified individuals is the burden of time and expense that amasses when they struggle to satisfy the requirements of both. In face, some groups, like the American Board of Medical Specialties, are undertaking massive overhauls in order to make their MOC programs more relevant and more efficient so that CE and MOC meet more often.
Of course, any certifying board has to be careful to adapt in a way that doesn't diminish the rigor and value of a given certification. This means that process evolution can be slow-moving. Many certifying boards have been in existence for long periods of time. For instance, the American Board of Orthodontics, the oldest certifying board in dentistry, has been around since 1929. Change has to be made incrementally so that CE and MOC continue to converge in ways that increase both the quality of services provided by the certified individuals, and the quality of the board certification experience.
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