Font Size:

Emergency Medicine Eligibility

Updated April 2018

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

ABPS General Requirements:

  1. 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.
  2. Be a graduate of a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international allopathic or osteopathic college of medicine. International graduates must also hold a valid Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Certificate.
  3. Hold a valid and unrestricted license(s) to practice medicine in the United States, U.S. territories, or Canada.

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 approved 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. 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. The 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 official verification of the completed GTP year(s). Click on the link to view the current BCEM-approved Emergency Medicine GRADUATE TRAINING PROGRAMS.
      1. Applicants who are in good standing in a 12- or 24-month, full-time fellowship that is recognized by the BCEM may be eligible to sit for the qualifying written exam prior to completion of the fellowship.
        1. Applicants who have not yet completed the fellowship must submit an original signed letter from the fellowship director attesting to the applicant’s satisfactory progress in the program and level of preparedness for the exam.
        2. Applicants who sit for and pass the written examination prior to completion of the fellowship must provide documentation of the completion of the fellowship in order to be approved to sit for the oral exam.
    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. Physicians applying under this option must:
      1. Submit official verification of the years and hours worked in Emergency Medicine.
        1. 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.
        2. 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.
        3. 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.
        4. 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.
      2. Have hours 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. An administrator of the freestanding emergency facility must attest that the facility meets the criteria below.
            • 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.
  4. Submit verification of active 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. The case reports must be no older than twelve (12) months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is submitted to 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. 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. To view the Sample Case reports, click here and click here.

Additional Application Requirements:

  1. Submit three (3) letters of Recommendation from Diplomates of any ABPS, ABMS, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC Board of Certification. All letters must be signed by the author, printed on letterhead, dated within the twelve month period just prior to the submission of the application, and must include author contact and board certification information.
  2. All U.S. physicians must perform a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Bank and submit the report. Get your self-query report at www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov. All Canadian physicians must request a Testament Statement from each province in which a license is held verifying that there have been no disciplinary actions against the applicant.
  3. Submit a current curriculum vitae, which includes medical school, degrees earned, and work experience, in chronological order.

Case Report Requirements:

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.

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 meeting the requirements described below will not be accepted, resulting in an incomplete application. 

The applicant must submit ten (10) case reports in the following format:

  1. Case reports must be typewritten.
  2. Case reports must be double spaced on 8.5″ x 11″ white paper.
  3. The applicant must sign each case report.
  4. 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.
  5. Confirmation of validity of the reports by hospital administrator, medical records director, or whoever performs such duties at the facility 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.)

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.

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.