What Is the ABODM?

American Board of Disaster MedicineWhen a disaster strikes a community, it’s vital that physicians are trained and ready to provide efficient medical care to those affected and to be prepared to offer continuing care during recovery efforts. Unfortunately, this is a significant challenge because every disaster, whether natural or manmade, is unique. That’s why it’s often said disaster medicine really should be every physician’s second specialty and every hospital should have at least one physician who is certified in disaster medicine.

In North America, there is only one multi-specialty certification board that certifies physicians in disaster medicine—the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS). The ABPS offers qualified and experienced physicians disaster medicine certification through its Member Board, the American Board of Disaster Medicine® (ABODM®).

The ABODM helps physicians prepare themselves in the event of hurricanes, wildfires, pandemic outbreaks, terror attacks, and more by educating them about the importance of disaster medicine preparedness in the healthcare community. When a major disaster occurs, physicians from all specialties are called into action, and everyone affected—from victims to emergency responders—will depend on physicians to treat injuries, coordinate relief, and help lay the groundwork for recovery.

As disaster medicine specialist and past chairman of the ABODM, Martin E. Thornton, DO, said: “Physicians trained in disaster medicine are needed to provide medical expertise and to work in tandem with other stakeholders to create public health policies that improve both the effectiveness and availability of medical care during disasters.”

Disaster medicine certification from the ABODM communicates to federal, state, and local government officials that certified physicians are qualified to contribute to relief and recovery after a disaster. To that end, ABODM certification focuses on the knowledge and skills a physician needs to become a recognized leader in the four stages of disaster preparation and management: planning, coordination, execution, and debriefing. Physicians certified by the ABODM:

  • Have a basic knowledge of the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System
  • Understand the principles of triage in a disaster setting
  • Know the importance of protective equipment, decontamination, and site security during a disaster
  • Possess the clinical expertise to provide effective care with extremely limited resources
  • Understand the concept of psychological first aid and caring for responders

To become certified in disaster medicine, physicians must first satisfy the eligibility requirements of the ABPS, which includes holding a current, unexpired board certification granted by the ABMS, AOA, ABPS, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Candidates must then pass a rigorous computer-based exam that consists of 200 multiple-choice questions.

If you are a licensed physician considering become certified in disaster medicine, contact the ABPS today for more information.



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

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