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.

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