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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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