The American Board of Physician Specialties® Has Options for Family Medicine Physicians

Young doctor talking to a little girl in a wheelchairThe Board of Certification in Family Medicine (BCFM) is committed to the idea that family medicine physicians deserve to be certified in the specialty they practice. But that doesn’t always mean family medicine. Considering today’s healthcare environment, it’s not hard to understand why. Many family medicine doctors, particularly those in underserved or rural areas, have established their careers in other medical specialties to fill a community’s medical needs. The problem is that even though they may be highly skilled and knowledgeable practitioners, they often find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to career advancement.

That’s because, across the country, hospitals and other healthcare organizations overwhelmingly view physician board certification as a requirement for hiring, staffing privileges, and promotions. Where does this leave a rural family medicine doctor who is an expert in emergency care, or one who has vast experience and knowledge in obstetrics? Is it right to limit their careers and privileges, and thus, patient access, simply because of restrictive staffing bylaws?

At the BCFM, we don’t think so. We believe that talented and dedicated physicians should have some verifiable way, beyond their track record of patient care, to show that they have extraordinary medical skills in their practiced specialty. To that end, we offer family physicians an opportunity to earn board certification in a variety of medical specialties, including:

  • Family medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • Family medicine obstetrics
  • Integrative medicine

What Are the Eligibility Requirements of the BCFM?

While the eligibility requirements for physicians seeking board certification vary from one specialty to the next, there are a number of prerequisites common to all Member Boards of the ABPS. These prerequisites encompass the following:

  • Graduation from a recognized U.S. or Canadian allopathic or osteopathic college of medicine.
  • Holding a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States, its territories, or Canada.

The Board of Certification in Family Medicine (BCFM) has its own eligibility requirements that include:

  • Completing an ACGME- or AOA-accredited residency in family medicine, or a family medicine residency accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)
  • Submitting a current curriculum vitae that includes medical school, degrees earned, and work experience, in chronological order
  • Submitting a documented report of at least ten family medicine cases for which the physician had the lead management role. The case reports must be no older than twelve months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is submitted to the ABPS.

To earn certification in family medicine with the BCFM, candidates must pass a computer-based written exam that consists of 200 multiple-choice questions administered over a four-hour session.

Once granted, all ABPS certificates are good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.

You can find more information about the BCFM’s eligibility requirements here.

Physician Certification From a Nationally Recognized Certifying Body

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognize the governing board of the BCFM, the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), as one of three nationally distinguished physician board certifying bodies.

If you are a family physician looking for a way to show your patients, peers, and employer that you are an exceptionally skilled medical specialist, contact the ABPS. We’ll be glad to explain the eligibility requirements for certification through our Member Boards listed above and start you on the journey to more career opportunities.

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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
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Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine