Encouraging All Emergency Medicine Physicians to Be Board Certified in the Specialty

Encouraging All Emergency Medicine Physicians to Be Board Certified in the SpecialtyThe shortage of qualified emergency medicine physicians in the United States has been well-documented. According to healthcare industry estimates, as much as 40 percent of emergency department doctors are neither residency trained nor certified in the specialty. Rather, many of them have completed residencies in a primary care field, like internal medicine or family medicine. Given the current shortage, it’s not surprising that some family physicians spend about 80 percent of their time in emergency care or urgent care.

The problem is especially acute in rural areas, where many hospitals are understaffed. To meet their rural communities’ needs, physicians – whether EM-trained or not – must offer services in high-risk, high-volume emergency departments. Meanwhile, the industry’s hiring practices continue to evolve as hospital groups, insurance companies, and other stakeholders prioritize hiring board-certified physicians. Where does that leave practitioners who are not certified in emergency medicine?

Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM)

The American Board of Physician Specialties® believes they should also have a chance to boost their employment opportunities, enhance their careers, and improve their earning potential. That’s why we offer certification in emergency medicine through our Member Board, the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM). The ABPS strongly encourages practicing emergency medicine physicians to seek certification with the BCEM. BCEM certification indicates to hospital leaders and stakeholders that these experienced professionals have attained the skills and knowledge to deliver emergency care at the highest levels. BCEM certification also lends enormous prestige to healthcare organizations by declaring to patients and the public at large that their EM physicians are highly credentialed professionals who can be trusted to give them the expert care they seek.

Eligibility Requirements of the BCEM

Only the most talented and dedicated physicians achieve BCEM certification, but the benefits are well worth the time and effort the process requires. If you’re an emergency medicine physician who is residency trained in a primary care specialty but is considering board certification through the BCEM, you must submit documentation illustrating your EM experience that includes at least 7,000 hours of emergency medicine practice with no less than five years on a full-time basis.

Other eligibility requirements of the BCEM include:

  • Completing an ACGME- or AOA-accredited residency, or a residency recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), in emergency medicine
  • Submitting a current curriculum vitae that includes medical school, degrees earned, and work experience
  • Successfully completing both a written and oral examination

The computer-based written exam consists of 325 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must pass the written exam in order to take the oral component.

For more details about dates and fees for the application and the written exam, click here.

Once granted, all BCEM certification are good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.

Emergency Medicine Fellowship Programs

The BCEM also provides a certification pathway through approved emergency medicine fellowships approved by the American Academy of Emergency Physicians (AAEP). The AAEP recognizes teaching hospitals and medical schools that offer distinguished emergency medicine fellowships for primary care physicians. Completion of an AAEP-approved fellowship enables graduate fellows to apply for certification with the BCEM.

Hospitals and schools that offer emergency medicine fellowships can receive recognition through the AAEP’s Emergency Medicine Fellowship Recognition Program. The AAEP recognizes only fellowships that have established a level of training that allows physicians to demonstrate mastery in emergency medical care. You can find a list of BCEM-approved fellowships here.

To learn more about the BCEM’s eligibility requirements, contact the ABPS. As a nationally recognized choice for physician board certification, we will be happy to provide you all the information you need so that you can one day join the ranks of our esteemed Diplomates who practice their specialties across the United States as well as Canada and Puerto Rico.


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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