I recently received a pleasant surprise from the American Board of Anesthesiology. In an email that they sent me, they informed me that my Continuing Medical Education (CME) requirements for fulfilling my Maintenance of Certification in Anesthesiology (MOCA) has been substantially reduced. Hurray for small favors. For anesthesia residents who finished after 2004, they now need only 250 hours of CME credits over ten years instead of 350 hours as previously required. According to the ABA, the reason they made the change is because they are trying to align their recertification process with the rules made by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which only requires 25 hours per year.
This seems pretty reasonable. In California a doctor must maintain his medical license by participating in at least 50 hours of CME over a two year cycle. It makes you wonder how they derived the original 350 hour requirement. Did they just pull that number of out thin air? There are obviously no studies out there that will answer the question of a doctor's competency whether she has gone through 35 hours per year of CME vs. 25 hours per year. And then there is still the ginormous elephant in the room, the thousands of practicing anesthesiologists out there who have been grandfathered in and don't need any CME at all to maintain their board certification. Is the ABA telling me that I still need to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to maintain my certificate but my colleague who works in the next operating room surfing on his iPad is equally competent but doesn't have to lift a finger to keep his? What kind of hypocrisy is this?
Another change in the MOCA process that they wrote to me is that from now on only a maximum of 60 hours of CME per year will be approved by the ABA. Previously that was 70 hours. This is to prevent people from cramming all their CME's into the last year or two prior to the expiration of their certificate. I find it curious they chose 60 as their new limit. It just so happens that the CME courses offered by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the SEE and ACE programs, will give the participating anesthesiologist 60 hours of CME per year. Just a coincidence? I think not.