Diplomate FAQs

What is the purpose of the American Board of Pediatrics?

The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) is a nonprofit organization that sets standards for certification in pediatrics. This process entails assuring the public that ABP board-certified pediatricians have completed an accredited residency training program, have successfully passed a robust evaluation of pediatric knowledge, and are engaged in maintaining certification through lifelong learning and quality improvement activities.

The board accomplishes this goal by evaluating pediatricians to ensure continued competence throughout their careers.

Founded in 1933, the ABP is one of the 24 certifying boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). An ABP certificate is recognized throughout the world as a credential signifying a high level of physician competence.

How does ABP evaluate pediatricians?

ABP evaluates pediatricians throughout their careers.

First, physicians who have completed an ACGME-accredited training program in general pediatrics or in a pediatric subspecialty take an exam to determine whether they have mastered a strong base of knowledge that equips them to provide a high standard of care. Passing that initial exam earns certification for the physician.

At the time of certification, pediatricians are automatically enrolled in a program to maintain certification. Every five years, they complete a series of activities designed to ensure that they are staying current on medical advances and are actively improving the quality of care their practice or institution provides.

You can check a pediatrician’s certification status on the ABP website.

Note: Physicians certified before 1988 are not required to participate in Maintenance of Certification activities to stay certified, although many choose to do so.

Is board certification required for a pediatrician to practice medicine in the U.S.?

No, board certification is voluntary, but may be required by hospitals, medical centers, and insurance companies for credentialing.

To practice medicine, a pediatrician (or any physician) must have a medical license issued by the state or territory in which they work. A medical license sets minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients.

Board certification declares a physician’s expertise in a specialty, like pediatrics. Maintaining board certification provides evidence that a doctor is keeping up with advances in his or her specialty.

More than 110,000 pediatricians in the United States have been certified by the ABP. A pediatrician must be board-certified to be a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What subspecialties does the ABP certify?

The ABP awards certificates in General Pediatrics and in the following subspecialty areas of Pediatrics:

  • Adolescent Medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Child Abuse Pediatrics
  • Critical Care Medicine
  • Developmental-Behavioral
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology-Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Pulmonology
  • ​Rheumatology

Certificates are awarded in conjunction with other specialty boards in the areas of:

  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Medical Toxicology
  • Pediatric Transplant Hepatology
  • Sleep Medicine
  • Sports Medicine

In the past, certificates were awarded for Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

Who governs the ABP and where does its financial support come from?

The ABP is governed by a board of directors, comprising 15 members. There are 10 board-certified pediatricians who work in education, research and clinical practice. One subboard chair represents the subspecialities. Two public members are non-physicians knowledgeable about the health and welfare of children and adolescents. Board members serve six- or three-year terms. The ABP President and Executive Vice President also are members.

Officers, including the board chair, are elected on an annual basis for one-year terms. The ABP Nominating Committee submits candidates for board membership.

Support for ABP activities come from fees paid by physicians applying for certification and maintenance of certification.

Internally, the board is run by the President and CEO (currently David G. Nichols, MD, MBA) who is appointed by the board of directors. His eight-member senior management team includes experts in such fields as credentialing, examination development/administration, psychometrics, competency-based assessment, quality, finance, information technology, and operations.

What is the purpose of the Maintenance of Certification?

The ABP recognizes that certified pediatricians are knowledgeable and motivated by a desire to provide the best possible care. However, research has uncovered gaps in the quality of health care delivered to children and adults. Pediatricians who participate in MOC learn how to measure quality of care and effectively fill the gaps in their own practice through quality improvement projects or a practice improvement module (PIM). In addition, pediatricians who participate in MOC demonstrate advanced knowledge and a commitment to lifelong learning. In this way, the four-part MOC process assures the public that pediatricians involved in MOC are continually demonstrating clinical competence.

Once enrolled in MOC, you have five years to fulfill all MOC requirements. These requirements include:

  • Maintaining valid, unrestricted medical licensure
  • Completing approved self-assessment and continued learning activities
  • An up-to-date examination or assessment of knowledge
  • Completing approved quality improvement activities

More details about MOC are available on the “Maintain Certification” pages of www.abp.org.

How do I find out what MOC activities I need to complete, and when I am due to take an exam?

All the information about your specific requirements are available in your portfolio, which you can access by logging in through www.abp.org.

If you need help logging in, you can click on the “Forgot ID/Password” link at the portal log on, or email us at moc@abpeds.org, or call 919-929-0461, and ask for MOC.

How much does MOC cost?

Beginning in 2018, you can pay your five-year enrollment fee at the beginning of each MOC cycle or choose the annual payment option. You choose which certification areas you wish to maintain and only pay for those areas.

Your MOC enrollment fee includes access to ABP-developed activities to help you fulfill your MOC requirements. In addition to MOC points, most ABP-developed activities also award CME credit for no additional charge.

The MOC fees also provide access to MOCA-Peds, our new web-based assessment program to fulfill your Part 3 requirement – allowing you to test as you go, on the go. If you prefer to not participate in MOCA-Peds, you have the option to take the proctored examination at a secure testing center for an additional fee that covers the costs charged by the testing center and associated expenses.

MOC fee schedule

Why do some pediatricians have to participate in MOC and others have permanent certification?

All pediatricians who wish to be designated as “Meeting requirements of Maintenance of Certification” must participate in all four parts of MOC.

Pediatricians who passed the initial exam before 1988 were issued permanent certificates. These physicians are not required to participate in MOC to keep their certification, however the ABP encourages all pediatricians to participate in MOC to ensure continued competence throughout their careers. MOC participation provides evidence that a physician is keeping up with advances in his or her specialty and/or subspecialty.

What happens if I let my certification expire or if I don’t pass the exam?

If you do not fulfill your MOC requirements and re-enroll in MOC by the due date listed in your ABP Portfolio, you will no longer be listed as meeting MOC requirements. Unless your certification was issued before 1988, you will no longer be a board-certified pediatrician.

Pediatricians whose certificates have expired can apply for reinstatement and must complete specific requirements in order to regain certification.

Who develops the tests? Are they different every year?

Developing a certification exam is a lengthy and rigorous process that helps to ensure that the exams are valid, fair and reliable. Pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists from both community and academic practice are involved in every step of the process:

  • Determining content to be covered
  • Writing questions
  • Reviewing questions
  • Selecting questions for the exam
  • Analyzing the results
  • Setting a passing score

To ensure exam security and currency of content, the exams are different every time. After the exam is administered, questions and their responses are analyzed and teams of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists review the exams and remove poorly performing questions before exams are scored.

More information about the exams is available here.

What is the difference between the ABP and the AAP?

The ABP is separate from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which is a membership organization that advocates for children and pediatricians in the US. The AAP is the largest provider of educational materials for pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists in the world. However, the AAP does not certify pediatricians. Although ABP certification is required to become an AAP fellow (FAAP), there are AAP members who are not certified. You can check certification on the ABP website.