The BCFM Offers Family Medicine Physicians a Recognized Choice for Board Certification

Doctor filling patient history list on a clipboard.The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) as one of three nationally distinguished physician board certifying bodies. The Board of Certification in Family Medicine (BCFM), a Member Board of the ABPS, offers qualified and experienced family medicine physicians an opportunity to demonstrate their range of expertise through board certification in family medicine.

While the eligibility requirements for physicians seeking board certification varies from one specialty to the next, there are a number of prerequisites common to all Member Boards of the ABPS. These include an unrestricted medical license for every state in which the physician is licensed, proof that these licenses are current, adherence to the ABPS Code of Ethics, and a prescribed amount of experience in the physician’s chosen specialty.

Eligibility Requirements of the Board of Certification in Family Medicine

Separately, the BCFM requires doctors seeking family medicine certification to have completed a family medicine residency approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). The ABPS also recognizes family medicine residencies accepted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Further, applicants must submit at least 10 documented reports for family medicine cases in which they assumed the lead role during the 12-month period prior to applying with the BCFM. Case reports are required, and they must include:

  • Complaint
  • History
  • Admitting diagnosis
  • Physical and lab findings
  • Final diagnosis
  • Summary of important facts, including diagnosis, care, and final results

Exams for Certification in Family Medicine

The BCFM offers a clinically-based, written exam that gives physicians a chance to demonstrate proficiency in the core competencies required to provide comprehensive care in family medicine. The exam covers 33 family medicine subject areas, with cardiovascular diseases, dermatology, geriatrics, pediatrics, and signs and symptoms of diseases being the areas most represented on the exam. Development of the rigorous exam is a collaborative effort by the ABPS, with input from ABPS Diplomates, psychometric consultants, and other experts in the field of family medicine. Diplomates design the written exam to thoroughly test applicants on their knowledge of family medicine.

You can find out more here about the exam as well as the dates and fees for BCFM application.

Once granted, BCFM certification is good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.

Current Diplomates of the ABMS and the AOA are eligible to recertify with the BCFM. Recertification requires documentation of the required number of Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours, completion of the recertification application, and successful completion of the written recertification examination.

Why BCFM Certification Matters

The process for certification with the BCFM is understandably rigorous, but when physicians achieve BCFM certification, they become recognized as qualified family medicine physicians, positioning themselves as leaders in the healthcare community and expanding their career opportunities. When these doctors achieve BCFM certification, they:

  • Become recognized as qualified family medicine physicians, positioning themselves as leaders in the healthcare community and expanding their career opportunities
  • Enjoy opportunities to exchange information about clinical experiences and best practices
  • Have a meaningful voice as a valued participant in the community

If you are a family medicine physician researching board certification options and would like more information about the BCFM’s eligibility requirements, or helpful details on how to prepare for the certification exam, contact the ABPS today.



Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
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