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About ABPS

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), Certifying Body of the American Association of Physician Specialists (AAPS)

AAPS is the third largest multi-specialty physician/surgeon certifying entity, providing board certification to both allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) physicians, has grouped its certification activities within a single subdivision identified as the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS).

ABPS is an integral part of AAPS, and is subordinate to the AAPS Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, ensuring that any and all ABPS activities are acceptable to AAPS.

AAPS is the single incorporated entity in the AAPS/ABPS relationship. The ABPS name was registered to AAPS in August 2005. ABPS implements certification functions under the direction of and requiring the approval of AAPS. All rules and by-laws that apply to AAPS apply equally to ABPS.

The ABPS subdivision of AAPS coordinates the activities of the seventeen Specialty Boards of Certification, the eleven Administrative Boards and the ABPS all-specialty forum.

The seventeen Specialty Boards of Certification are Anesthesiology, Dermatology, Diagnostic Radiology, Disaster Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine Obstetrics, Family Practice, Geriatric Medicine, Hospital Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedic Surgery, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Psychiatry, Radiation Oncology, General Surgery and Urgent Care Medicine.

Each specialty board determines the qualifying/certifying steps of its certification process, sets eligibility and application criteria, develops the items banks used in the exams, develops the examinations used, sets the score for the examination, review/approves certification applications and conducts other business as required.

Specialty boards meet twice a year to ensure a valid and reliable examination process.

The Administrative Boards meet twice yearly and handle such logistical issues as the establishment of examination fees and examination timing. Multi-specialty administrative boards have at least one member from each specialty serving on that administrative board. Administrative Boards are not involved in the development of individual certification board exams or the individual certification board exam process or review.

The twelve Administrative Boards are the Board of Certification in Anesthesiology, the Administrative Board of Radiology which comprises the Board of Certification in Diagnostic Radiology and the Board of Certification in Radiation Oncology, the Administrative Board of Internal Medicine which comprises the Board of Certification in Psychiatry, the Board of Certification in Internal Medicine, the Board of Certification in Dermatology, the American Board of Disaster Medicine, the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine, the American Board of Family Medicine Obstetrics, the Board of Certification in Geriatric Medicine, the American Board of Hospital Medicine, the Board of Certification in Family Practice, the Board of Certification in Orthopedic Surgery, the Administrative Board of Surgery which comprises the Board of Certification in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Board of Certification in Ophthalmology, the Board of Certification in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, the Board of Certification in General Surgery and the Board of Certification in Urgent Care Medicine.

The Chairs of the Administrative Boards and the Specialty Boards of Certification are required to attend the twice yearly meetings of the ABPS governing board and bring that board’s attention to any cross-specialty matters. Other members of the ABPS governing board include the President of AAPS, the immediate past Chair of the ABPS, the immediate past President of AAPS, and up to two non-physician public members.

AAPS/ABPS is the first medical certification board in the United States to include active participation of public members.