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(Section 3) 10 simple self-assessment strategies you can use every day

When we practice medicine, we never stop learning.

Sometimes we gravitate towards group and self-learning activities because they are fast, convenient and fit well in our busy schedules. The problem is, we attend and then we move on without really reflecting on our personal progress as a Fellow-in-practice.

The wonderful thing about self-assessment is that it leads to greater self-awareness and understanding of the effectiveness of our efforts. We can identify areas of strength and areas where we could potentially improve. We can reflect on what we have learned, and what we still need to learn. We can then make goals for future learning, based on areas where we need to make more progress.

Below are 10 simple self-assessment strategies.

Beyond claiming MOC Program Section 3 credits for them, these activities can help you make reflection and self-improvement a more common part of your daily practice.

  1. Enroll in a self-assessment or simulation program
  2. Use your hospital’s 360-degree annual performance review
  3. Leverage your provincial regulatory body’s peer assessment
  4. Use performance metrics provided by your hospital or regional health authority
  5. Conduct a chart audit with feedback from a trusted colleague
  6. Try an eLearning module from the Canadian Medical Protective Association
  7. Use video to improve your consultation skills
  8. Team up with a surgical colleague for direct observation
  9. Develop and circulate evaluation forms for your teaching and presentations
  10. Get patient feedback with a communication guide

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7 specialists share how they approach MOC

Everyone has their own approach to completing their Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Program requirements. We reached out to some Fellows to gain some insights.

When you think about MOC, what is the first thing you think of?

“Why is it so hard to find section 3 credit activities?”

Dr. Carrie Kollias, an orthopedic surgeon in Lethbridge, Alta., undoubtedly voiced what many Fellows feel about the program. (That’s why we wrote the article ‘10 simple self-assessment strategies you can use every day.’ Check it out for ideas!)

By and large, though, Fellows understand the importance of logging their lifelong learning activities as a pillar of Canada’s self-regulating profession (even if it’s a bit of a pain to document).

As Dr. Bill Dafoe, a professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Alberta, eloquently stated, “This is our responsibility to the profession, our colleagues, our patients and our families and neighbours that we will fulfil the obligation of ‘Maintenance of Competence’ to warrant their trust in us; that we will help shape the next stage of demonstrating that competency.”

Above: Words that were used to describe MOC.

How soon do you log your MOC activities?

There’s always a sense of urgency as the January 31 deadline looms for Fellows to log their activities for the year. Some members report them all at once; others, log them as they go.

Where do you fall on the spectrum?

One thing Dr. Dafoe will strive to do in 2018 is to take more time for contemplation.

“It’s important to take time for reflection and viewing the theme in your learning and professional life. Steve Jobs in his famous commencement address to the Stanford graduating class described it as ‘connecting the dots.’ So, I’ll try to enter my activities earlier to help with ‘connecting the dots.’”

Similarly, Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick, a general surgeon in Huntsville, Ont., will aim to think about areas of self-evaluation outside of the ‘medical expert’ role.

Learning activities vary specialist-to-specialist, though there are commonalities

One activity Dr. Sarah Mueller, a general surgeon in Saskatoon, Sask., makes sure to participate in every year are trauma courses. She explained, “Trauma courses, for residents and fellows across Canada, keep my skills and knowledge up-to-date.”

The best learning activity Dr. Mike Dickinson, a pediatrician in Miramichi, N.B., completed in 2017 was the PREP Self-Assessment questions from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“They are very educational and provide me with almost all the credits I need. They are also fun to do!”

Dr. Dafoe benefited immensely from the Physician Leadership Focus: Put Unrelenting Distractions in their Place that was part of the PLI Physician Leadership Course. He elaborated, “Insights were relevant to not only my workplace domain but also what is happening with our families and societies in our ‘plugged in society.’”

Some common activities specialists reported include

  • Conferences (national and international)
  • Annual meetings (national specialty societies)
  • Simulation teaching and assessment
  • Trauma courses
  • Hospital rounds
  • Case reviews
  • Chart audits
  • Courses
  • Position statement reviews
  • Self-assessment questions and quizzes
  • Podcasts
  • Book/chapter/journal writing or reading

Dr. Shabbir Amanullah, a psychiatrist in Woodstock, Ont., has many plans for 2018. He shared, “I have a book to write and a chapter to author, but I am looking forward to the annual chart audit that I am looking to implement for my department.”

Dr. Nancy Brager, a psychiatrist in Calgary, Alta., is anticipating attending the International CPD Conference in 2018 as a first-time attendee; while, Dr. Kirkpatrick will be completing the requirements for his Graduate Certificate in Global Surgical Care through the University of British Columbia.

MOC, described in three (or fewer) words


Perhaps, Dr. Amanullah said it best: “We owe it to our patients.”

Thank you to our contributors: Dr. Shabbir Amanullah, Dr. Nancy Brager, Dr. Bill Dafoe, Dr. Mike Dickinson, Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick, Dr. Carrie Kollias and Dr. Sarah Mueller.

How do you complete your MOC? We’d love to hear from you!

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Is this your first time completing your MOC? 5 things to know

Rule #1: Don’t panic!

Perhaps you’re a bit overwhelmed and short on time to log your credits. You may not even know where to start.

Take a deep breath. It’s not so hard.

The most important thing to remember is that we’re here to help. Skim the list below and, if all else fails, contact us for personalized assistance!

  1. Read the Framework
  2. The truth is: MOC is a lot easier when you understand where to log your learning activities. Since we know you’re busy, we’ve made it simple for you: short, condensed and visual. If you’ve ever wondered, can I log that podcast? Or, is that conference I attended a Section 1 or a Section 2 activity? This resource has you covered.

    More to the point, MOC is more than just conferences; reading, studying, reviewing, research (etc.) all count. Don’t box yourself in. Read the framework and think creatively.

    Pro tip: the framework is clickable with even more links.

    Related: also check out our list of CPD activities you can record.

  3. For ideas on what to report – read the FAQs.
  4. Our FAQ has more than just basic questions; mine it for tonnes of different ideas on activities you can earn credit for. And don’t be intimidated by the length, each question is laid out in easy-to-read paragraphs.

    Insider tip: even our Royal College Services Centre staff members refer to the FAQ for inspiration!

  5. Search our website
  6. Search keywords like “Section 1” on our website and you’ll be connected with some great Dialogue articles, the MOC Framework and MOC Tip of the Month columns. These are great resources to get you started and to expand your thinking about MOC.

  7. Understand your five-year MOC cycle
  8. The MOC Program is based on a five-year cycle. Your first cycle begins on January 1 of the year following your admission to the program. To maintain enrolment in the program, you must complete a minimum of

    • 40 credits per year, and
    • 400 credits over each five-year cycle.

    Since January 1, 2014, new MOC cycles now require Fellows and MOC Participants to complete a minimum of 25 credits in each section of the MOC Program during their five-year MOC cycle.

    Reminder: you can only claim a maximum of 50 credits per cycle for Section 1: unaccredited activities.

    For more details, visit MOC Program information on our website.

  9. Call us if you need assistance!
  10. Our Royal College Services Centre is here to help. Contact them for personalized assistance. They are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and have extended hours at the end of this month.

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Did you miss any of these MOC tips?

MOC Tip of the Month

We published 9 new tips for you in 2017.

Here’s a cheat sheet on what you may have missed (or a refresher to inspire you as you complete this year’s credit cycle).

For more tips, visit the MOC Tips section of our website.

Have a tip to share? Contact us.

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Earn MOC Section 3 credits with Prescribing Safely Canada

Assess your prescribing skills while earning MOC Section 3 credits.

The Royal College is piloting Prescribing Safely Canada. It is based on a program developed by the Medical Schools Council and the British Pharmacological Society.

The online pilot has 30 case-based questions that focus on a full range of prescribing competencies, customized for

  • pediatricians,
  • surgeons,
  • internists and
  • family physicians.

The Prescribing Skills Assessment will take about 1-2 hours to complete and can be done any time before April 20, 2018.

It is currently available in English for a limited number of subscriptions (up to 2000), and is free of charge. Participants who complete the assessment receive automated feedback and earn two hours of MOC Section 3 credits.

If you are interested, please visit to learn more or to sign up. Reminder: Space is limited to 2000 registrations.

Why not customize the program for Psychiatry or other specialties?

Angèle Landriault, manager, Practice, Performance and Innovation, explains:

“For the pilot, we selected only a few general areas of practice. It is possible that some of the content may overlap with your work and be beneficial; though, the majority is not likely to be relevant. If any of you decide to complete the program, we would certainly be interested in receiving feedback about its applicability or not (you can send feedback to We would also welcome your thoughts on the potential benefit of an assessment targeted to your primary discipline. After we evaluate the pilot, we may consider expanding the program to more particular specialties.”

Questions/comments can be sent to

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Extended hours: Royal College Services Centre

Do you have questions or need help while you are documenting your 2017 continuing professional development activities?

Contact our Royal College Services Centre (RCSC)

RCSC hours in January 2018
January 2 - 26 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., EST
January 27 - 28 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., EST
January 29 - 31 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., EST

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Webinar/in-person: Attend our 2018 Annual Meeting of the Members

Our Royal College Annual Meeting of the Members is coming up:

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Time: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. (ET)
Location: Royal College headquarters, 774 Echo Drive, Ottawa, Ontario

RSVP your attendance

What to expect:

  • Exercise your right to be heard and to provide feedback on strategic initiatives.
  • Receive financial information about the organization.
  • Interact with colleagues and learn more about the Royal College’s activities and plans for the year ahead.

Meeting materials are posted on our website. Please use the link (above) to access and review them.

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