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.

I feel truly blessed and grateful to be an internal medicine board-certified diplomate with the American Board of Physician Specialties. Their ongoing, steadfast commitment to physician board(s) enhancement, forward focused vision, and tenacity is second to none. ABPS has become a recognized choice in Physician Board Certification.

Adam Rench, MD
Internal Medicine
To be the best, you must measure yourself against the best. Achieving Board Certification in Emergency Medicine by the ABPS gave me the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the art of EM in an objective way. The high bar that ABPS sets for candidates to be allowed to take both the written and oral exam is a testament to ABPS's rigorous vetting of one's ability to practice Emergency Medicine at a high level. By maintaining these credentials, I've been able to instill confidence in my abilities at the department/employer level and ultimately with the patients that choose to seek emergency care at the facilities at which I practice.

Royce Mathew Joseph, MD
Emergency Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has supported the entire field of Integrative Medicine in sponsoring our board. It has been so validating of the importance of prevention-oriented and holistic approaches to care while emphasizing the scientific basis of this specialty to have it recognized by ABPS. I am proud to have been one of the first groups to be board certified by ABPS in Integrative Medicine, leading the way for others committed to training in this specialty.

Myles Spar, MD
Integrative Medicine