Continuous-certification FAQs

Transition to C-Cert

When did C-cert begin?
The transition to C-cert for all diplomates began in 2019 with a one-time continuing medical education (CME) attestation requirement for all diplomates. C-cert activities officially began January 1, 2020. 

Why is UCNS discontinuing the 10-year certificate and recertification process?
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 of whether 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 wasn't UCNS C-cert 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 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 . Diplomates who met all C-cert requirements as of March 20, 2021 were mailed new certificates with initial certification issue dates and no expiration contingent on meeting annual C-cert requirements. 

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 are required to attest to meeting the subspecialty-specific AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM requirements according to the CME Transition Requirements Table. The schedule is based upon the initial or recertification examination year. This one-time, last-time attestation of completing 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 12/31/2019 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?
Information is available on the UCNS website or contact Bryan Hagerla, Continuous Certification Manager at bhagerla@ucns.org.     

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 are encouraged to identify the topics and journal articles that reflect the latest research and developments in their subspecialty field. These topics and journal resources are compiled into an annual reading list that is posted online for diplomates. Brief annual online quizzes about the resources 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 is the format of the new annual C-cert quizzes?
The annual C-cert quizzes 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 and are allowed three separate attempts to attain the passing score. 

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. 

I did not complete the 2020 C-cert requirements. Is there still time to complete the requirements to change my certification status to "meeting requirements"?
You can still complete the 2020 outstanding C-cert activities in 2021. Pay all outstanding C-cert fees for quiz access by signing into your diplomate profile and then locating the Pay Now icon on the left side of your profile page. If you paid the 2020 fee but haven't completed the quiz, you may log in to the testing platform to complete the 2020 quiz. You will need to pay the 2021 fee to gain access to the 2021 quiz, and the 2020 AND 2021 C-cert requirements will need to be completed by the November 5th deadline to have a C-cert status of “meeting requirements.”

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.”

Other

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, AOA, or RCPSC primary specialty 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 1TM credits for the C-cert learning and assessment activities. Effective May 5, 2021, diplomates will also be granted up to 11 ABPN Self-Assessment credits for passing the 2021 annual quiz as part of a comprehensive SA program, which is mandated by the ABMS as a necessary component of maintenance of certification.

How do I get a copy of my CME certificate after I pass my C-cert quiz?
Within 10 business days of passing the C-cert quiz you will receive an email confirmation from UCNS. At that time, you can log in at www.ucns.org, 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
bhagerla@ucns.org
(612) 928-6326