Understanding Maintenance of Certification: Cognitive Expertise

This is the fourth in a series of articles on the requirements of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and how they affect neurologists.

January 9, 2009

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What does the ABPN require for the Cognitive Expertise component of MOC?

To fulfill the cognitive expertise component, neurologists must pass a cognitive examination prior to the expiration date on their certificates. To sit for a cognitive examination, all current MOC requirements must be satisfied.

A passing score on the cognitive exam extends the renewal date of the certificate to December 31, 10 years from the year of the exam.

The exam is a multiple-choice, computer-based exam administered by Pearson VUE at more than 200 locations across the country. MOC cognitive exams differ from the initial certification exams in that they are practice-relevant and focus on the clinical applications of knowledge. For subspecialty certificates, the exam will reflect the practice of the subspecialty.

How does the ABPN recommend that neurologists prepare for the cognitive exam?

The ABPN recommends that neurologists prepare for the exam by keeping current with research and developments in the field, reading specialty-specific journals and practice guidelines, and attending relevant CME programs. The ABPN notes that the cognitive exams in neurology and child neurology have been yielding pass rates of 99 percent.

How can the AAN help neurologists meet the ABPN's Cognitive Expertise component?

The AAN offers numerous opportunities to keep current with research and developments in neurology, as well as practice guidelines and the journal Neurology®. All AAN CME programs have been reviewed and approved by the ABPN as part of a comprehensive lifelong learning program, which is mandated by the American Board of Medical Specialties as a necessary component of MOC.

The AAN's NeuroSAE™: Self-Assessment Examination in Clinical Neurology is a 100-question, multiple-choice online examination designed to help neurologists meet the Self-Assessment and Lifelong Learning component of MOC. The content outline for the exam is based on the outline used by the ABPN for the MOC cognitive examination. The NeuroSAE can be taken at any time, as a timed test or on the schedule of the test taker. Those who take the test receive feedback on responses and recommendations for further reading. Performance is also compared to that of other neurologists. Read more about NeuroSAE

Find more information about MOC. If you have questions regarding the AAN's education offerings related to MOC, contact Susan Rodmyre at srodmyre@aan.com or (651) 695-2725.

The ABPN's 2008 cognitive exam content outline for neurology:

10%

  • Headache and other pain syndromes

10%

  • Epilepsy

10%

  • Cerebrovascular disease

10%

  • Aging, dementia, and degenerative diseases
   

8%

  • Spinal cord and nerve root disorders

8%

  • Neuromuscular disorders
   

7%

  • Movement disorders

7%

  • Demyelinating disorders
   

5%

  • Critical care and trauma

5%

  • Neurology of systemic disease
   

4%

  • Neuro-ophthalmology/neuro-otology

4%

  • Neurogenetics/neurometabolic disorders
   

3%

  • Neuro-oncology

3%

  • Infectious diseases
   

1%

  • Cognitive neurology

1%

  • Neurologic disorders presenting with psychiatric symptoms

1%

  • Neurotoxicology

1%

  • Sleep disorders

1%

  • Ethics and professionalism

1%

  • Neurorehabilitation