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 did UCNS discontinue 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 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?
Yes, diplomates pay an annual administrative fee as part of their C-cert requirements. 

CME Requirements

Do I need to submit CME credits as part of the C-cert process?
No. Primary specialty boards have CME requirements, and since having and maintaining primary certification is part of the UCNS general eligibility and C-cert requirements, we have reduced the redundancy of requiring diplomates to report CME to the UCNS.  

How will UCNS know if I am keeping current in my subspecialty field if I am not required to submit CME credits?
Subspecialty C-cert reading lists are released annually that include ten journal articles or practice guidelines that have been submitted and selected by subspecialty peers based on their relevance and importance to the subspecialty field. Brief online quizzes assess diplomate knowledge of the annual 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. 

C-cert Lifelong Learning

How are articles chosen for the annual reading lists?
Diplomates and the subspecialty sponsoring organization members are encouraged to identify the topics and journal articles that reflect the latest research and developments in their subspecialty field according to the selection criteria. The selected topics and journal resources are then compiled into an annual reading list that is posted online for diplomates.

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 2021 C-cert requirements. Is there still time to complete the requirements to change my certification status to “meeting requirements”?

You can still complete the 2021 outstanding C-cert activities in 2022. 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 2021 fee but haven’t completed the quiz, you may log in to the testing platform to complete the 2021 quiz. You will need to pay the 2022 fee to gain access to the 2022 quiz, and the 2021 AND 2022 C-cert requirements will need to be completed by the annual 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 do not to pay the annual C-cert fee or 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. Diplomates who do not complete the annual C-cert requirements for two consecutive years are considered no longer 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 or self-assessment (AS) credits for completing the C-cert activities and passing the quiz?
Yes, diplomates who pass the annual C-cert quiz may claim AMA PRA Category 1TM credits for the C-cert learning and assessment activities. Effective May 5, 2021, diplomates will also be granted ABPN SA Self-Assessment  credits for passing the 2021 annual C-cert 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 for both CME and SA credit. These emails serve as your CME certificates. Sign in to your diplomate profile and click on your name at the top right side of the web page to access your diplomate profile. Next, click on “History” and you can either resend your CME confirmation email or download a PDF copy of the email.  

Staff Contact

Bryan Hagerla, Continuous Certification Manager
[email protected]
(612) 928-6326