Multiple Certifications, One Program

Subspecialty Maintenance of Certification

When you earn subspecialty certification, you not only demonstrate competence to practice — you're also pledging to keep up with the latest advances in that subspecialty area. That's why the ABPMR has always required maintenance of certification for subspecialty certification. In fact, even physicians with non-time-limited primary certification in PM&R must participate in MOC if they hold a subspecialty.

The great news is that the ABPMR has the same MOC program for both primary and subspecialty certification. With the exception of the subspecialty examination for MOC, your MOC activities count for both certifications. So, if you're meeting requirements for one certification, you're meeting requirements for all.

Comparison of Subspecialty MOC Options

MOC Options to Fit Your Practice

If you hold both primary and subspecialty certification from the ABPMR, you have options when it comes to maintaining your certifications.

Option 1 - Dual Certification


  • Reciprocity for all parts of MOC except the exam
  • Can still say you're certified in PM&R and subspecialty
  • Wide array of options for CME/Self-Assessments (both PM&R and subspecialty topics)


  • One extra examination every 10 years

Option 2 - Dropping Primary Certification


  • Focused practice in subspecialty, focused certification
  • Do not have to take primary MOC Exam


  • Can no longer claim certification in PM&R
  • May have negative implications for you due to practice setting/employer credentialing rules
  • Cannot become certified in any additional ABPMR subspecialty area (must have primary certification to sit for subspecialty exam)
  • Cannot volunteer as an ABPMR examiner or item writer for Part I or Part II Examinations

Guidance For Your Decision

Resources For Subspecialty MOC Options

Who Can Drop Primary Certification?

Certification Status Able to Drop APBMR Primary Certification
ABPMR diplomate certified in 1993 and later (time-limited certificate) with ABPMR subspecialty Yes
ABPMR diplomate certified before 1993 (non-time-limited certificate) and ABPMR subspecialty No - cannot drop non-time-limited certification, new MOC participation rules apply
Diplomate certified by another ABMS board (time-limited certificate) with ABPMR subspecialty No – policy only for ABPMR diplomates
Diplomate certified by another ABMS board (non-time-limited) with ABPMR subspecialty No– policy only for ABPMR diplomates

When and How to Drop Primary Certification

If you've weighed the options and decide dropping primary certification is right for you, here's what you need to do:


If you meet the criteria, you can drop primary certification in the final year of your current primary certificate cycle.


In the final year of your primary certificate, a new link will appear on your secure Physician Home Page called "Drop Primary Certification." This will lead to an attestation form, which you must submit to the ABPMR to indicate your intention to drop primary certification. If you do not submit this attestation your certificate will simply expire, which means your subspecialty certificates will also expire.