The Royal College Experience and Plans for the Maintenance of Certification Program

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The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, in 2001, implemented a mandatory maintenance of certification (MOC) program that is required for fellows to maintain membership and fellowship. Participation in the MOC program is one of the recognized pathways approved by provincial medical regulatory authorities in Canada by which specialists can demonstrate their commitment to continued competent performance in practice. This article traces the historical beginnings of the MOC program, highlighting the educational foundation and scientific evidence that influenced its philosophy, goals, and strategic priorities. The MOC program has evolved into a complex system of continuing professional development to facilitate and enable a “cultural shift” in how we conceptualize and support the continuing professional development (CPD) of specialists. The MOC program is an educational strategy that supports a learning culture where specialists are able to design, implement and document their accomplishments from multiple learning activities to build evidence-informed practices. In the future, the MOC Program must evolve from assisting fellows to use effective educational resources “for credit” to enable fellows, leveraging a competency-based CPD model, to demonstrate their capacity to continuously improve practice. This will require innovative methods to capture learning and practice improvements in real time, integrate learning during the delivery of health care, expand automation of reporting strategies, and facilitate new sociocultural methods of emergent learning and practice change. Collectively, these directions will require a research agenda that will generate evidence for how transformative cultural change in continuing professional education of the profession can be realized.

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