What’s the Difference between Board Certification and Certificate Programs?

Board Certification If you’re currently trying to find the right physician to offer you or a member of your family care, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the nomenclature. Physicians advertise their credentials, but what do they mean, exactly? What is the difference, for example, between board certification and certificate programs?

When a physician is board certified, it means that he or she went through an extensive process to demonstrate mastery of a particular medical specialty. While requirements and eligibility vary depending on the specific specialty, in general, board certified physicians have extensive firsthand experience and training in their field, successfully pass a formal examination, and commit themselves to continued professional medical training. In short, board certification is a helpful tool for identifying physicians who have risen to the top of their ranks and are highly qualified to provide you with the care you require.

Certificate programs, on the other hand, are training courses that are designed to provide specific working knowledge about a certain topic that usually concludes with some sort of evaluation to those who have grasped the concept and successfully completed the examination. Completing a certificate program can be extremely helpful and speaks to the physician’s willingness to learn new material or refresh their understanding, but it is relatively narrow in scope. Certificate programs may also be welcome to newcomers as well as experienced professionals, so a certificate does not necessarily indicate extensive firsthand experience.

While a certificate and certification may seem similar, it is important to understand the differences between the two. At the American Board of Physician Specialists, we provide board certification to qualified, experienced physicians who have mastered their specialty. Board certification isn’t a training program but a credential limited to only highly experienced physician leaders. To learn more about board certification, contact the ABPS today. You are also welcome to confirm the board certification of ABPS physicians using our online certification confirmation tool here.

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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.

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
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