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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House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
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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