Emergency Medicine Board Certification: Greater Professional Credibility, Satisfying Personal Development

Emergency MedicineDiplomates of the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM) enjoy many professional and personal benefits, including increased credibility in the eyes of hospital administrators and staff members, and the sense of satisfaction that comes with successfully demonstrating an elite level of knowledge and experience in a chosen medical specialty. Board certification can enhance a physician’s chance to become a senior partner in a practice, and hospitals increasingly identify certification as a requirement to work in their emergency departments.

Yet, as professionally and personally gratifying as Emergency Medicine board certification can be for its active Diplomates, the process of earning certification through the BCEM provides its own rewards. Even to become eligible to apply to take the written and oral examination is challenging. The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) established eligibility requirements that ensure only truly qualified physicians are positioned to earn certification through one of its 18 Member Boards. For Emergency Medicine, applicants must meet the general requirements, as well as requirements based on completion of a residency, years of Emergency Medicine practice, hours of continuing medical education completed, and more.

How the ABPS Certification Process Enhances Patient Care

Many Diplomates have found that during the course of ensuring they are eligible – documenting case work, for example – and preparing for the exams they actually improved their ability to provide patients the best care possible. The process allows emergency department physicians to:

  • Refresh their knowledge of core competencies of practicing Emergency Medicine
  • Learn new material about the specialty
  • Identify areas of knowledge that require additional study and/or experience
  • Improve the approach for bedside manner and diagnostic processes

Emergency Medicine Fellowship Programs

The Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM) provides a certification route via emergency medicine fellowships that are recognized by the American Academy of Emergency Physicians (AAEP). The AAEP endorses teaching hospitals and medical schools that offer exceptional emergency medicine fellowship programs for primary care physicians. Completing a fellowship approved by the AAEP allows graduates to pursue certification with the BCEM.

Eligibility Requirements of the BCEM

The ABPS is committed to providing career emergency medicine practitioners a chance to demonstrate their mastery in their field by earning EM board certification. We believe that the experience and knowledge gained by these dedicated physicians over the years deserves recognition.

To apply for initial certification with the BCEM, candidates must meet the general requirements set by the ABPS. This includes graduating from a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international allopathic or osteopathic medical school, and holding a valid, unrestricted medical license in the U.S., its territories, or Canada. The BCEM has additional specific requirements for three certification paths:

  • Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC-accredited residency in emergency medicine.
  • Completion of a residency in a primary care specialty—such as family practice, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, or general surgery—with at least five years of full-time emergency medicine experience.
  • Completion of a primary care residency and a 12- or 24-month emergency medicine fellowship approved by the BCEM.

A list of BCEM-approved fellowships is available here.

Candidates for BCEM certification must pass both a written and an oral examination. The written exam is computer-based and includes 325 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must pass the written exam before they can take the oral exam.

Once obtained, BCEM certification is valid for eight years, expiring on December 31 of the eighth year.

To learn more about the benefits of and eligibility requirements for Emergency Medicine board certification through the BCEM, 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