Family Physicians in Emergency Medicine Deserve to Be Board Certified
In a sense, family physicians were specialists in emergency medicine before it was even a specialty. For many decades, they were on the front lines of emergency care, and in the late 1970s when EM was recognized as a specialty, many of the professionals who helped develop the emerging field were family doctors by training.
Today, their vital contribution to emergency care continues. Family physicians serve on the staff of emergency departments throughout the nation, and many of them have established productive and rewarding careers in emergency care. With the ongoing shortage of qualified EM doctors, particularly in underserved communities, emergency departments of all sizes rely on family physicians for their versatility and breadth of knowledge. No less committed to the specialty than emergency residency-trained physicians, they have proven to be highly proficient in the emergency room, a high-stress environment that requires multifaceted skills, a calm demeanor, and decisive decision-making.
And yet, for many, the recognition they seek through certification in the specialty is elusive. At the American Board of Physician Specialties ® (ABPS), we aim to change that.
The ABPS Offers Board Certification to Experienced Emergency Physicians
Unlike other certifying bodies that make EM residency training an eligibility requirement, the ABPS does not. We believe that emergency room experience and proficiency are invaluable in preserving our nation’s emergency care safety net. And, as the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states, “Specialty certification alone should not prevent family physicians from practicing in any emergency setting or trauma center at any level.” Hence, our Member Board, the Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine (BCEM), offers emergency medicine certification to qualified family physicians with extensive experience in emergency care.
BCEM Eligibility Requirements
BCEM certification is highly competitive, but family physicians who satisfy its eligibility requirements and pass the stringent certification testing will come away with a verifiable record that they have the knowledge and expertise to provide exceptional emergency care in virtually any setting, whether urban or rural. Additionally, BCEM certification indicates that they are ethical practitioners, as all Diplomates must show adherence to the ABPS Medical Code of Ethics.
To be eligible to apply for initial certification, candidates must satisfy the general requirements of the ABPS. These include being a graduate of a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international allopathic or osteopathic college of medicine, and holding a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States, its territories, or Canada. The BCEM has its own eligibility requirements for three certification pathways that include:
- Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC-accredited residency in emergency medicine
- Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC residency in one of the following primary care specialties—family practice, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, or general surgery—and at least five years of full-time emergency medicine experience
- Completion of an ACGME, AOA, RCPSC, or CFPC residency in one of the following primary care specialties—family practice, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, or general surgery—and a 12- or 24-month emergency medicine fellowship approved by the BCEM
You can find a list of BCEM-approved fellowships here.
To earn BCEM certification, candidates in all three pathways must pass both a written and oral examination. The computer-based written exam consists of 325 multiple-choice questions. Candidates must pass the written exam to take the oral component.
Once granted, all BCEM certification is good for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.
To learn more about the BCEM’s eligibility requirements, which includes at least five years of full-time practice in emergency medicine, contact the ABPS. As a nationally recognized choice for board certification, we are fully committed to providing physicians a pathway to certification in the specialties they practice.