There Is a Pathway for Primary Care Trained Physicians to Become Board Eligible in Emergency Medicine

BCEMPrimary care trained physicians serve on the staff of emergency departments throughout the country. In fact, about 40 percent of the nation’s emergency department workforce are doctors with substantial experience in emergency medicine who have also completed a primary care residency. These physicians have established rewarding careers in emergency care and have continually demonstrated high proficiency in the emergency room, a demanding environment that requires multifaceted skills, a calm demeanor, and confident decision-making. Today’s medical industry requires continuous improvement, and these doctors deserve to be recognized for their dedication and proven expertise.

Board certification is one of the best ways to earn recognition, but, unfortunately, for many years, certification in emergency medicine required residency training in the field. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. The Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine® (BCEM) offers a certification pathway to primary care trained physicians with extensive experience in the emergency room.

The BCEM was developed by the nationally recognized certification body the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) to ensure that qualified physicians have the opportunity to pursue board certification in their area of expertise. That’s why, at the BCEM, emergency residency training is not an eligibility requirement for certification. To be eligible for BCEM certification, a physician who did not complete an emergency medicine residency must:

  • Have completed a residency in a primary care field and practiced emergency medicine for at least five years on a full-time basis, while accumulating at least 7,000 hours of ER time.


  • In lieu of five years’ experience, have completed graduate training in an approved emergency medicine fellowship

If you are a primary care physician who is considering applying for emergency medicine certification, or if you would like information about approved emergency medicine fellowships, contact the ABPS. We will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with more details about the BCEM’s eligibility requirements.

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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