Continuous-certification FAQs

Transition to C-Cert

When does C-cert begin?
There will be transitional continuing medical education (CME) reporting requirements in 2019. C-cert officially begins January 1, 2020. All current UCNS diplomates who meet the transition criteria will automatically be enrolled in the C-cert process.

Why is UCNS phasing out the 10-year certificate?
We listened to our diplomates. Advances in medicine are ongoing and change happens quickly. The previous 10-year, time-limited certification cycle did not provide a timely assessment that diplomates were staying up to date on the latest science, treatments, and therapeutics relating to their subspecialty. C-cert is designed to be more convenient, flexible, current, and practice-related. The goal is to support diplomates in improving the care they provide, while upholding the high standards of UCNS certification. Supported by the findings of a 2017 UCNS diplomate survey, the C-cert model was preferred over the previous high-stakes recertification examination model.

Why isn't UCNS C-cert being offered as a pilot program?
The UCNS reviewed 13 different C-cert pilot programs during the development process of the UCNS program. The C-cert process being launched by the UCNS meets the life-long learning and assessment criteria of many American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) pilot programs but is scaled to meet the unique needs of the UCNS and its diplomates while maintaining respected certification standards. Due to the size of the UCNS subspecialties, running pilot programs concurrently with the former program are not financially or administratively possible. The UCNS is committed to ongoing assessment and improvement of the new C-cert process and will seek ongoing feedback from its diplomates.

My certificate shows a future expiration date so do I have to participate in the C-cert requirements?
Yes, the C-cert process replaces the previous recertification process and all certificate holders, regardless of expiration date, must participate and meet the annual C-cert requirements beginning in 2020 to be considered “Certified – Meeting Requirements.” With the new C -cert process, diplomate certification will be continuous as long as the annual requirements are met. Certification status will be updated annually and can be verified online in the Diplomate Directory.

Are there fees for C-cert?
Beginning in January 2020, diplomates will pay an annual fee as part of their C-cert requirements. The annual $175 administrative fee is used to offset the cost of administering the C-cert process. Diplomates can pay online by signing into the UCNS website and navigating to their profile page. With the smaller annual fee, versus the large recertification examination fee, diplomates will find it easier to budget other life-long learning opportunities relative to their subspecialty and practice. 

CME Requirements

What are the CME requirements for C-cert?
All current diplomates will be required to attest to meeting the subspecialty-specific AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM requirements according to the CME Transition Requirements Table. The schedule is based upon the initial or recertification examination year. This one-time, last-time reporting of subspecialty-specific CME is to confirm that diplomates have kept up on their life-long learning during their previous time-limited certificate. The CME requirements must be met by 12/31/19 and attestation completed to meet the life-long learning expected during the previous time-limited certification.

What is the subspecialty-specific criteria for the CME requirements?
A good guideline to determine if the subspecialty-specific CME credits meet the criteria is to review the content outline for the subspecialty certification examination. 

How do I attest to my CME?
UCNS emailed login information and instructions to all the diplomates who need to attest to meeting their CME requirements. Information is also available on the UCNS website. If you did not receive the email, please contact UCNS.   

Will I need to submit my CME certificates during the online attestation?
CME certificates are not required at the time of CME attestation. Diplomates are encouraged to have their supporting documents readily available as the UCNS will conduct a CME audit in 2020, which will require selected diplomates to provide copies of the supporting CME documentation within 30 days of request.

Will I need to submit CME credits in the future?
After completion of the initial attestation of the subspecialty-specific AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM there will be no additional CME reporting required when C-cert requirements are met annually. Primary specialty boards have CME requirements, and since primary certification is part of the UCNS general eligibility requirements, we have reduced the redundancy of requiring diplomates to report their primary specialty CME to the UCNS. 

C-cert Lifelong Learning

How will UCNS know if I am keeping up-to-date in my subspecialty field if I am not required to submit CME credits?
Diplomates and the subspecialty sponsoring organizations will annually identify the topics and journal articles that reflect the latest research and developments in their subspecialty field. These topics and journal resources will be compiled into an annual reading list that will be posted online for diplomates. Brief annual online quizzes about the resources will assess diplomate knowledge of the reading list content. Diplomates are encouraged to pursue other life-long learning opportunities within their primary and subspecialty fields but UCNS will not require reporting of the activities. 

How do diplomates submit journal articles for reading list consideration?
Diplomates are encouraged to submit journal articles or published guidelines at any time throughout the year using the easy online form on the UCNS website. Examination committees review submissions in the fall of each year.

How many journal articles will I need to read annually for C-cert?
A reading list of up to 10 journal articles for each subspecialty will be released in the early part of each year.

Who selects the required list and develops the quiz questions?
The UCNS Examination Committees for each subspecialty are responsible for selecting the annual reading list and developing the 25-question quizzes. Examination committee members are subject matter experts nominated by the subspecialty’s sponsoring organization(s).

C-cert Learning Assessment

What will be the format of the new annual C-cert quizzes?
The annual C-cert quizzes will have 25 multiple choice questions that are based on the material covered in the selected reading list of journal articles that are selected for a specific subspecialty. These quizzes are not proctored and may be taken online at your convenience. At the end of the quiz, any questions answered incorrectly will display along with the correct answers with rationale to provide an additional learning opportunity.

What is considered "passing" on a C-cert quiz?
Diplomates must have a minimum score of 80% to pass the annual C-cert quizzes. 

How much time will I have to complete an annual quiz?
Once a diplomate starts an online quiz, they will be provided up to 100 minutes to complete the session. 

What if I don't take the annual quiz for my subspecialty?
Diplomates who choose not to take the annual quiz will be considered “Certified - Not Meeting Requirements.” Diplomates’ certification status will reflect this until the requirements are met per the policy or their certification lapses, at which time their status is changed to “Not Certified.”


What if I hold multiple UCNS subspecialty certifications?
Diplomates who have multiple UCNS certifications will need to meet the C-cert requirements for each of their subspecialty certifications and pay the associated annual fees for each certification.

I do not intend to maintain my ABMS, AOA, or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) certification. Can I still participate in UCNS C-cert?
No. In order to maintain UCNS certification, diplomates must maintain their current ABMS or RCPSC certification.

I let my certification lapse. Is there a way I can reinstate my certification?
Yes. Diplomates certified between 2009 and 2019 who did not transition to continuous certification in 2020 will be considered “Certified – Not Meeting Requirements” but certification can be reinstated if the reinstatement requirements are met prior to December 31, 2021. Physicians initially certified in 2020 and later who do not to participate and meet the annual C-cert requirements will be considered “Certified - Not Meeting Requirements” until reinstatement requirements are met but must be met within two years of initial certification.

Can I get CME credits for completing the C-cert activities and passing the quiz?
Yes, diplomates who pass the annual C-cert quiz may claim up to 11 AMA PRA Category 1 credits for the C-cert learning and assessment activities.

How do I get a copy of my CME certificate after I pass my C-cert quiz?
Within ten business days of passing the C-cert quiz you will receive an email confirmation from UCNS. At that time, you can log in at, click on your name at the top right side of the web page to access your diplomate profile. Next, click on “My Participation” and then click on PDF icon to export your certificate. 

Staff Contact

Bryan Hagerla, Continuous Certification Manager
(612) 928-6326