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ABP Details Development of New Assessment Option in Pediatrics

Friday, November 30, 2018 - 09:45

The waiting room. A desk in an office. A comfortable chair at home.  These aren’t places that physicians normally associate with taking a high-stakes certification exam. But for pediatricians certified by the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), that will soon change.

A new paper published in Pediatrics (“MOCA-Peds: Development of a New Assessment of Medical Knowledge for Continuing Certification”) details the development of the Maintenance of Certification Assessment for Pediatrics (MOCA-Peds), a new online, non-proctored assessment soon to be offered by the ABP. The paper offers insight into this new platform, from details about its conception and development as a two-year pilot with thousands of pediatrician volunteers to a report on its feasibility and acceptability.

“This paper explains how the ABP worked with RTI International to engage pediatricians in the initial design and decision-making behind the MOCA-Peds model,” said Laurel K. Leslie, MD, MPH, Vice President of Research at the ABP and lead author of the paper. “More than 11,000 pediatricians have participated in sharing their ideas and suggestions since February 2016, and [MOCA-Peds] is definitely better because of this.”

The ABP certifies that pediatricians meet standards of excellence established by their peers. Certification helps assure the public that a general pediatrician or pediatric subspecialist has successfully completed training and fulfills certification requirements. One of those requirements is passing an exam.

For the last several years, the ABP has offered its diplomates only one way to fulfill the exam requirement: a proctored, closed-book examination administered at a secure testing center every ten years. Beginning in 2019, when MOCA-Peds goes live to a set number of diplomates, participants will be able to answer questions throughout every quarter of each calendar year of their Maintenance of Certification (MOC) cycles whenever and wherever they want using a computer, tablet or smartphone. They will also be allowed to use resources (e.g., the internet) to help answer questions.

“We wanted to address three overarching goals with MOCA-Peds:  1) maintaining a psychometrically sound assessment, given our role as a credentialing body; 2) enhancing learning opportunities as part of MOCA-Peds; and 3) improving the MOC experience,” said Adam Turner, MPH, paper coauthor and Research Program Manager at the ABP. 

Murrey G. Olmsted, PhD, lead investigator at RTI International and coauthor, notes that “the paper describes the theory behind the development of MOCA-Peds. We also focus on our approach for gathering pediatrician feedback and the major qualitative themes and resulting actions the ABP took based on that information.“

To read the paper, please visit the Pediatrics website; to learn more about the new assessment option, please visit