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Emergency Medicine Eligibility

Updated July 2017

To be eligible for certification in Emergency Medicine through the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM), the applicant must:

ABPS General Requirements:

  1. Submit a completed Emergency Medicine application form complete with required application processing fee, two (2) passport-size photographs taken within the last 90 days, and a notarized signature.
  2. Be in conformity with the Code of Ethics of the American Board of Physician Specialties, be known in his/her community as an ethical member of the profession, and be an active specialist in Emergency Medicine.
  3. Be a graduate of a recognized college of medicine confirmed by a copy of an allopathic/osteopathic degree or a letter of verification from the institution where the degree was earned. In the case of foreign medical schools, an English translation of the document is also required. Graduates of foreign medical schools must also include a copy of their Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certificate. Canadian medical schools and medical training programs are considered equivalent to U.S. medical schools and medical training programs.
  4. Hold a valid and unrestricted license(s) to practice medicine in the United States, its territories or Canada.
  5. Submit a current curriculum vitae, which includes medical school experiences and degrees earned, in chronological order.

Emergency Medicine-Specific Requirements:

  1. All applicants must have completed residency training in a program approved by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and deemed acceptable to the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM). Such training must include substantial and identifiable training in Emergency Medicine as determined by the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine and approved by the ABPS. The ABPS also accepts all residencies accepted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), including approved residencies outside Canada.
  2. Be certified on the “Provider” level in the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) program, Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) program, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) program.  NOTE: ACLS, ATLS, and PALS do not have to be current at the time of submitting the application, but must be current as of the exam administration window and on file 30 days prior to taking the examination.
  3. Be qualified under one (3A, 3B, or 3C) of the following:
    1. Completed an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC or CFPC-accredited residency in Emergency Medicine. Physicians applying under this option must include a copy of their completed Emergency Medicine residency certificate. Meeting this requirement also satisfies the residency requirement specified in item 1.
    2. Completed an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, CFPC-accredited Primary Care residency (Primary Care specialties include Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and General Surgery) AND completed a 12- or 24-month Graduate Training Program (GTP) approved by the BCEM.  This Graduate Training Program does not constitute a residency program, and does not fulfill the residency requirement specified in item 1.  Physicians applying under this option are required to submit a copy of their completed Primary Care residency and independent verification of the completed GTP year(s). Click on the link to view the current BCEM-approved Emergency Medicine GRADUATE TRAINING PROGRAMS.
    3. Completed an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, CFPC-accredited Primary Care residency (Primary Care specialties include Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and General Surgery) AND must have practiced Emergency Medicine on a full-time basis for five (5) years AND accumulated a minimum of 7,000 hours in the practice of Emergency Medicine. Physician applicants in the State of California must demonstrate he/she has practiced full time Emergency Medicine for a minimum of six (6) years and has obtained a minimum of 300 hours of continuing medical education (CME) relevant to Emergency Medicine. Meeting the ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, CFPC-accredited Primary Care residency requirement also satisfies the residency requirement specified in item 1.
      1. Physicians applying under this must include a copy of their completed Primary Care residency certificate and/or a copy of their board certificate in a Primary Care specialty.
      2. Submit independent verification of the years and hours worked in Emergency Medicine, which must be earned in either:
            1. An emergency facility physically attached to a hospital, which operates on a 24-hour, 7-day week basis. The facility must be continuously staffed with a physician (“ on-call” hours and hours earned in walk-in clinics or urgent care facilities are not applicable).
            2. A free standing emergency facility which is licensed by their state
                • Sees all types of emergencies,
                • Is not located physically within a hospital,
                • Is open to the public,
                • Receives 911-ambulances, who treat them as the ‘nearest hospital’,
                • Has documentation that this facility complies with all state regulations for an ED regarding staffing, supplies, labs, imaging, and treatment capabilities,
                • Has a defined arrangement for admissions to the nearest hospital,
                • If Medicare and Medicaid are accepted, then the facility accepts all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
                • An administrator of the freestanding emergency facility must attest that the facility meets the above criteria.

    NOTE: Independent verification of hours must be submitted on letterhead stationery (from someone with access to information regarding the physician’s experience) itemized by year and number of hours earned each year. Hours may be presented over a 12-month consecutive period or a calendar year. Contract group, emergency room director, or hospital medical staff administration must complete verification. To view sample verification letter, click here

    NOTE: Applicants must have been working full-time Emergency Medicine for the 12-month period prior to application and must be currently working full-time Emergency Medicine in an emergency facility acceptable to the board. BCEM considers 1,400 hours per year as full-time. BCEM requires verification of a minimum of 1,400 hours per 12-month period. Verification of less than 1,400 hours in a 12-month period will not be accepted.

  4. Verify staff privileges by means of a letter from the administrator of each emergency facility at which privileges are held confirming good standing at that facility.
  5. Submit a documented report of a minimum of ten (10) Emergency Medicine cases for which the physician had the lead management role. To view the Sample Case reports, click here and click here. The case reports must be no older than twelve (12) months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is received by ABPS. Case reports shall only include information on the care and services provided by the applicant. At the point where a patient’s care is transferred to another physician or facility, the applicant’s case presentation is complete. The applicant must sign each case. Case reports must be properly compiled (see Case Report Requirements below) and include an index and written verification of accuracy by the facility’s administration.

Additional Application Requirements:

  1. Submit three (3) letters of recommendation from Diplomates of an ABPS, American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), or AOA-recognized board of certification. All letters of recommendation must be printed on letterhead, must be dated within the twelve months prior to the submission of the application, and must include an original signature, author contact information for the author, and should indicate the board certification(s) held by the author. Copies are not acceptable. These letters do not need to be mailed directly to ABPS, but can be included with the applicant’s materials and certification application.
  2. U.S. physicians must do a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank and submit a sealed (unopened envelope) copy of the report as part of the application process. For information on performing a self-query of the Bank, go to the website All Canadian physicians must request and submit a testament statement from each province in which a license is held, verifying that there have been no disciplinary actions against the applicant.
  3. Sign and submit the ABPS Disclosure and Authorization to obtain Criminal Background Reports form.
  4. Sign and submit the ABPS Examinations Complaints and Appeals Process form.
  5. Payment of appropriate fees. To view the fee schedule, click here.

Case Report Requirements

Case reports not presented in accordance with the description provided by the BCEM will be returned.  The applicant must submit two (2) separately compiled copies of ten (10) case reports in the following format:

  1. Case reports must be typewritten. Photocopies of typewritten case reports are acceptable.
  2. Case reports must be double spaced on 8.5″ x 11″ white paper.
  3. Case reports must be compiled in a hard, report style binder, or a three-ring binder (no sheet protectors, staples, or paper clips).
  4. The applicant must sign each case report.
  5. An index shall be placed at the front of reports indicating the type of case (diagnosis) and the page number on which the case can be found. To view a sample index/verification form, click here.
  6. Confirmation of validity of the reports by hospital administrator, medical records director, or whoever performs such duties at the facility. This must be on official letterhead verifying that you were the physician treating the patient in each case on the date stated. If the applicant’s cases reflect work at more than one institution, then separate letters must be submitted verifying the cases from each institution. This validation must be notarized and signed. (Refer to sample index/verification form.)
  7. Case reports should contain the following information:
    1. For patient #, list the same number as the case number (Refer to sample index and verification form.)
    2. Date of Emergency Department Care
    3. Chief complaint
    4. History
    5. Physical examination and results of the Emergency Department work-up, including lab results and imaging studies
    6. Emergency Department course and final disposition including condition of patient at the time of completion of your care of the patient, as well as final diagnosis
    7. Each case must include discussion of the case, demonstrating to the Credentials Committee what the thought process was in the evaluation of the patient, diagnostic and treatment approach, and indication that the candidate understood the pathophysiology of the patient’s problem, and some rationale to explain the patient’s final disposition. This is the most important section of the case report and will be reviewed closely.

    NOTE: The Board, in general, looks for cases that show the application of accepted/standard medical practice in the management of the patient, resulting in an excellent outcome. The Board is not looking for controversial or unusual case management, even if the physician can justify his or her actions. One purpose of Board certification is to demonstrate knowledge/application of practices acceptable in Emergency Departments across the United States and Canada.

    The BCEM Credentials Committee reserves the right to seek additional details for any case it deems necessary. Board certified practicing Emergency Physicians carefully scrutinize these cases. Every attempt at accuracy and clarity should be made. Please note that case reports are not copies of dictated Emergency Department summaries from the chart, but are specifically prepared documents for the application packet. Case reports not adhering to the above mentioned format will be rejected.

The BCEM recommends that the applicant keep a copy of all application documents submitted to the ABPS.