What Must a Physician do to become Board Certified?

Board Certified PhysicianIn order for a physician to become board certified through one of the Member Boards of the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS), he or she must meet the general ABPS eligibility requirements and the eligibility requirements that are specific to his or her chosen specialty. It is important for students who are just beginning their medical studies to understand that at some point, they will almost certainly want to seek board certification. Even though it might seem like a long time off, once you find your academic and professional track, the time to take the respective board certification exam will be here quicker than you imagined.

Here’s an important tip: Don’t reach the point in your career when it’s time to become board certified and be caught unaware by an eligibility requirement that you hadn’t considered. Research the requirements sooner, rather than later, and keep up with them in the years leading up to your board certification exam so that you know exactly what is expected of you at all times.

Eligibility Requirements of the ABPS

Each of the Member Boards of the ABPS has its own specific set of eligibility requirements, but there are several general requirements that they all have in common. These include:

  • Completing advanced specialty training or a residency or fellowship of three to five years
  • Possessing a full, unrestricted medical license for every state where you intend to practice
  • The willingness to become recertified after eight years, rather than the 10-year requirement imposed by other board certification bodies
  • Completing at least 50 hours of continuing medical education annually
  • Completing a non-remedial medical ethics course for recertification

Founded in 1952, the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) takes a non-discriminatory approach to board certification, and since certifying our first physician in 1960, we have certified countless highly qualified physicians across a range of specialties, from traditional fields like family medicine and dermatology to emerging specialties like integrative medicine and disaster medicine. In fact, we are the only multi-specialty board that offers certification in these emerging fields.

Advantages of Certification With an ABPS Member Board

Once certified, physicians must complete several hours of continuing medical education annually. It’s no wonder that only the most talented and committed physicians achieve certification through the ABPS. That they are also widely viewed as leaders in their fields is also not surprising. And as for other career benefits, consider that certification with an ABPS Member Board:

  • Makes physicians more marketable to potential employers
  • Enables physicians to gain opportunities for career advancement, which can lead to increased earning potential
  • Fosters recognition and respect from medical colleagues
  • Gives doctors a meaningful voice as valued members of the healthcare community

To learn more about the general eligibility requirements for ABPS board certification, or to learn about the specific requirements for your chosen specialty, contact the ABPS.


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