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.

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