The Origin of Physician Board Certification

Board Certification OriginPhysician board certification in the United States originated in the early 20th century as a means for identifying who was competent to practice particular specialties. Medical advances and scientific breakthroughs engendered a widespread desire by physicians to focus on specific aspects of medical care, rather than generalizing. As physicians gravitated toward specialization, more attention was paid to the means and methods for training specialists – and to ways a physician specialist’s qualifications might be objectively measured.

By the 1930s, the U.S. government and leading medical minds around the country recognized the need to standardize board certification on a nationwide basis, rather than state to state. There also was an acknowledged need for organized oversight of the various specialty boards that had begun to form around the country in order to ensure that the entire medical profession and the country’s citizens were best served. Formal board certification began to take hold. The medical profession took its first big step toward the industry as we know it today.

Much has changed since the early days of physician board certification. Yet, even as the concept of board certification has matured and evolved, the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) has maintained its position as an advocate for prioritizing patient care ahead of the business of medicine. Our mission and values have not changed. We manage and govern under standards of physician board certification that are as rigorous as any certifying body in North America, at all times furthering patient care, not only in the major cities, but in rural areas that are sometimes overlooked. Our allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) physicians place patients first and abide by the highest ethical standards. These include:

  • Integrity, trust, respect and open communication – Our organization and Diplomates conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity ensuring patient safety while providing for the highest level of care.
  • Sharing knowledge and best practices – Together, our board certified physicians strive to share experiences, learnings and best practices in order to advance the level and quality of patient care.
  • Advocating for the highest level of patient care – Our rigorous standards for testing and eligibility ensure that our physician Diplomates will provide the highest level of patient care.
  • Compassion – Our physicians demonstrate compassion in every aspect of their practice.

To learn more about physician board certification and the role played by the ABPS in the past, present and future, contact us today. The ABPS is the official multi-specialty certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.

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