Maintain Your Certification and Licensure

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) implements the maintenance of certification (MOC) program and monitors participation for its diplomates (board certified physicians).

Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) programs are designed by state licensing boards and have varied requirements. The ABPN sets standards and requirements for certification and MOC for:

  • Psychiatry and psychiatric subspecialties, including:
    • Addiction Psychiatry
    • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    • Clinical Neurophysiology
    • Forensic Psychiatry
    • Geriatric Psychiatry
    • Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
    • Pain Medicine
  • Neurology and neurology subspecialties

The ABPN is a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). ABMS sets the general standards and the ABPN implements the programs for psychiatry and neurology.

Understanding MOC

APA can guide you on your pathway to understanding and meeting the four components of MOC. We will keep you up-to-date on the latest MOC Activity Requirements you need to know. APA offers a wide variety of CME and MOC approved activities to help you achieve your CME, MOC, and MOL requirements. All physicians are encouraged to use the ABPN Physician folio to track progress and requests.

  • MOC Part 1

    MOC Part 1: Professional Standing (Licensure)

    You Need a Medical License. To show evidence of professional standing, all board certified physicians must continuously hold an active, full, and unrestricted license to practice medicine in at least one state, commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States, or province of Canada. That license can either be allopathic and/or osteopathic and must be unrestricted. This remains true even if the physician is out of the country for extended periods of time. Full details of licensure requirements can be found in any Information for Applicants publication on the ABPN website. Licenses must be kept up-to-date in a ABPN Physician Folios account.

    Understanding Maintenance of Licensure

    The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which represents the nation's state medical boards, has developed a plan for MOL. Licensing requirements vary by state. In most states, physicians must show that they have obtained a certain amount of CME credits.

    How APA can help you

    If your jurisdiction requires CME as part of the licensure process, APA offers a variety of opportunities to earn AMA PRA Category 1 credit™. View Part 2 to learn more about APA's CME offerings.

    New HIV Psychiatry CME courses now available to help psychiatrists in Washington, DC, Kentucky, and Florida meet Maintenance of Licensure requirements. Enroll now in courses at the APA Learning Center.

  • MOC Part 2

    MOC Part 2: Lifelong Learning (CME) Self-Assessment

    CME Requirements

    Physicians who were board certified in 2012 or later are required to complete a total of 90 CME credits over three years, averaging 30 credits per year. CME must be relevant to the specialties in which the psychiatrist practices.

    ABPN accepts three types of CME credit:

    1. Category 1 CME accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME)
    2. Category 1A CME accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
    3. Category 1 CME accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

    Psychiatrists certified in more than one area only need to accrue the stated average of 30 CME credits per year. CME credits can be used to satisfy requirements for multiple specialties and subspecialties. Psychiatrists must complete the following to fulfill the CME requirement from ABPN:

    • If your last recertification was before 2012: You will need to earn a total of 300 CME credits before you apply for the recertification exam.
    • If your last recertification was in 2012 or after: You must earn a total of 90 CME credits over three years (an average of 30 CME credits per year) before you apply for the recertification exam.

    You may waive 8 CME credits for a peer reviewed grant or paper, peer supervision or peer review up to a maximum of 16 hours.

    View ABPN's latest 10 year MOC chart and C-MOC Chart for psychiatrists.


    Board certified physicians of the ABPN must also complete self-assessments (SA). SA activities must cover new knowledge and/or current best practices in one or more of the competency areas:

    • Patient Care
    • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
    • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
    • Professionalism and Systems Based Practices
    • Medical Knowledge

    These activities are most often MOC exams which can highlight areas where the psychiatrist needs more knowledge. SA activities are typically a self-administered quiz which includes the correct answer, recommended literature resources for each question, and peer comparison that can be used by the physician as the basis for focused CME, or career development.

    • If your last recertification was before 2012: You must earn a total of 24 ABPN approved SA credits from a combination of approved ABPN activities before you apply for the recertification exam.
    • If your last recertification was in 2012 or after: You must earn a total of 24 ABPN approved self-assessment activities credits over a period of three years (an average of 8 credits per year) before you apply for the recertification exam.
    • ABPN has provided several additional ways to waive SA requirements. View the Non-CME SA Explanation of Requirements.
    • Beginning in 2016, psychiatrists certified or recertified will be required to complete an approved Patient Safety Course either prior to board certification or in the first Continuous-MOC cycle. New APA Patient Safety Course coming soon.

    The CME earned from SA activities counts toward the total CME credits needed per year.

    How APA can help you with MOC Part 2 SA requirements

    APA offers several self-assessment activities that are ABPN-approved for MOC:

    • Online courses at APA Learning Center. APA Members and RFMs get the best price on these activities, and can access several of them at no cost.
    • Attending the APA Annual Meeting provides you up to 50 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™ and IPS: The Mental Health Services Conference provides you up to 27 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™.
    • Focus Self-Assessment, available annually with a subscription to FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry; physicians can earn up to 44 AMA PRA Category 1 credits including 24 ABPN approved MOC Part 2 self-assessment credits, and access to PIP modules. View more information and how to subscribe.
    • FOCUS MOC Workbooks provide physicians with an opportunity to earn up to 12 AMA PRA Category 1 credits and 12 ABPN approved MOC Part 2 SA credits per workbook.
    • Understanding the Evidence: Off-Label Use of Atypical Antipsychotics, self-assessment exam and eFocus clinical vignettes at APA Learning Center; physicians can earn up to 25 ABPN approved MOC Category 1 credits. This is a free Self-Assessment program to all.
  • MOC Part 3

    MOC Part 3: Cognitive Expertise (certification/recertification)

    You must successfully complete the cognitive examination every ten (10) years. The MOC Part 3 recertification exam administered by the ABPN. To prepare for the MOC cognitive examinations, psychiatrists should keep up with the latest research and clinical developments in their field, review specialty-specific journals and practice guidelines, and attend relevant CME programs.

    • Prior to sitting for th exam, physicians must participate in and complete all MOC requirements (see MOC Part 2 and MOC Part 4) by the time of application.
    • Application and Dates: MOC cognitive examinations are usually administered early in the calendar year (except pain medicine). Application deadlines for MOC cognitive examinations are currently in the year before the examination. For example, if you were planning to take the test in 2016, you would need to apply for the recertification examination in 2015. View the ABPN Exam Schedule to learn the exam dates and application deadlines.
    • Combined (formerly modular) MOC cognitive examinations are available for physicians who wish to recertify in more than one specialty and/or subspecialty at the same time.

    Please note: The ABPN will randomly audit MOC Part 2 and 4 activities of 5% of the applicants for the examination. Those applicants chosen for the audit process must attest completion of all current MOC requirements, as well as provide documentation (so be sure to keep all of your CME, SA certificates, and completed Performance in Practice forms.)

    How APA can help you

    APA can help members taking the recertification exam with the following activities:

    • Focus: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry covers the ABPN recertification examination topic outline in four year cycles. Your annual subscription includes ABPN approved self-assessments and PIP modules. View more information and learn how to subscribe.
    • Focus: Psychiatry Review workbooks – available at APA Publishing – are useful resources when preparing for the recertification exam. Each volume contains 400 multiple-choice questions covering 16 topic areas in psychiatry, along with rationales and references for further study. Physicians can also earn up to 50 AMA PRA Category 1 credits per volume.
    • APA Learning Center provides APA members the ability to earn and track CME/MOC credit activities and certificates as part of your Transcript. APA transfers your transcript data monthly to ABPN to appear in your ABPN Physicians Folio.
  • MOC Part 4

    MOC Part 4: Improvement in Medical Practice (Performance in Practice)

    Performance in Practice (PIP) units are designed for “Clinically Active” psychiatrists (see definitions below) to promote practice improvement activities through both chart review and external review. View the ABPN document on requirements and how to complete a PIP Module.

    • If your last recertification was before 2012: You must complete one PIP unit in the 10 year period before you apply for the recertification examination.
    • If your last recertification was in 2012 or after: You must complete one PIP unit every three years for a total of three PIP units in 10 years.

    Please note: "Clinical Inactive" psychiatrists (no direct and or/consultative patient care has been provide in the past 24 months) are required to complete all components of the MOC program except PIP Units. (For more information, please refer to ABPN MOC Program.)

    Clinical Module (Chart Review)

    Completing a clinical module requires a physician to compare his 0r her own practice against known clinical standards. Physicians can pick any module from a list of ABPN approved products.

    • There are three stages to each clinical module:
      • Stage A, Chart Review: the physician uses a Practice Assessment tool to review five patient charts and assess whether his or her current practice is consistent with evidence-based recommendations.
      • Stage B, documentation of an improvement plan: the physician devises and initiates a plan for improvement.
      • Stage C, repeat chart review: Within 24 months of the initial chart review and implementation of an improvement plan, the physician completes a second chart review using the same module.
    • ABPN will not ask you to send any identifiable clinical data as part of completing a module.
    • ABMS Portfolio Program: If a physician's institute QI program participates in the ABMS Portfolio Program, then that activity will satisfy the Clinical Module component, OR
    • Individual Pre-Approval: Physicians who wish to have their own individual or institutional QI activity preapproved should submit an Individual Part IV Improvement in Medical Practice (PIP) Approval Request Form.

    How APA can help you

    APA offers a number of Performance in Practice Clinical Modules, which are free for APA members at APA Learning Center.

    Psychiatrists can earn up to 20 AMA PRA Category 1 credits for the completion of each 3-stage module. Available modules include:

    • Physician Practice Assessment Tools for Assessment and Treatment of Adults at Risk for Suicide and Suicide-Related Behaviors
    • Physician Practice Assessment Tool for the Care of Patients with a Diagnosis of Schizophrenia
    • Physician Practice Assessment Tool for the Care of Patients with Major Depressive Disorder
    • Physician Practice Assessment Tool for the Care of Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
    • Physician Practice Assessment Tool for the Assessment and Treatment of Adults with Substance Use Disorder
    • Physician Practice Assessment Tools for Screening of Adults with Substance Use Disorder