How BCFMO Certification Benefits Physicians

Lauren Linken, MDThe American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS) offers qualified physicians in family medicine obstetrics an opportunity to demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge to practice their specialty at the highest level. The ABPS is a nationally recognized, multi-specialty board-certifying body with stringent eligibility requirements, and to achieve certification through our Member Board, the Board of Certification in Family Medicine Obstetrics (BCFMO®), eligible physicians must pass some of the most rigorous exams in the industry. Hence, only talented and dedicated physicians become certified by the BCFMO.

Increasingly, hospitals across the country are prioritizing hiring board-certified physicians as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Besides elevating the prestige of medical organizations, board-certified physicians, like our BCFMO Diplomates, inspire confidence in their patients, who often choose doctors based on their credentials. But how does BCFMO certification benefit physicians?

Let Lauren Linken, MD, a BCFMO Diplomate, tell you:

Casey Hicks, MD“In 2015, fresh out of fellowship training, I accepted a position with a Federally Qualified Health Center to practice family medicine and obstetrics. The hospital had ob-gyn physicians only and, for almost 30 years, no family medicine doctor had performed a delivery there. When I applied for my privileges, I was asked via a questionnaire, ‘Are you board certified?’ I was, through the American Board of Family Medicine. The questionnaire also asked, ‘Are you board eligible?’ I was, too, as I had completed a fellowship in obstetrics and was eligible to take the board exam offered by BCFMO. Because I had completed a fellowship, had met all my ‘numbers,’ and was board eligible, I was granted privileges. I went on to successfully complete my BCFMO exam and, since then, I have kept my full privileges.

“My partner, Casey Hicks, MD, was another story. He had completed a fellowship in tropical medicine, which included a significant amount of maternity care and cesarean sections – but in Africa, and it was not an obstetric fellowship per se. Although Dr. Hicks had the skill set to perform full-spectrum low- and high-risk obstetrics, including surgical deliveries, he was denied privileges. They did allow him to perform vaginal deliveries and assist in my surgeries, but he had to take further steps to get full privileges. He worked with me for a year doing an obstetric fellowship, and became board eligible. He passed his boards and had no problems applying for and accepting full privileges to practice obstetrics. Without the BCFMO, I don’t think this would have been a possibility for Dr. Hicks.”

The BCFMO Certification Process

To apply for BCFMO certification in family medicine obstetrics, candidates must meet the ABPS’s general requirements, which include graduating from a recognized U.S., Canadian, or international medical school (allopathic or osteopathic) and holding a valid, unrestricted medical license in the United States, its territories, or Canada.

The BCFMO offers two certification types: surgical and non-surgical. Both require completion of an accredited residency and board certification in family medicine.

Surgical Qualification Certification

There are two pathways for surgical certification—clinical practice and fellowship.

  • Fellowship track – Candidates must complete a 12-month recognized fellowship or extended residency program within the past five years.
  • Clinical practice track – Suitable for physicians with five years of surgical obstetrics experience.

For both tracks, a case log showing at least 60 vaginal and 70 cesarean deliveries, including 15 vaginal and 10 cesareans in the last two years, is required.

For a list of recognized family medicine obstetrics fellowships, click here.

Non-Surgical Certification

  • Candidates must submit a case log showing at least 60 vaginal deliveries, including 15 within the last two years.

BCFMO Examinations

  • Non-surgical candidates must pass a written examination.
  • Surgical candidates must pass both written and oral examinations. These exams, designed by experts, ensure that certified physicians are proficient in all aspects of obstetrics and gynecology. For more details on the BCFMO exams, click here.

BCFMO certifications are valid for eight years, expiring on December 31st of the eighth year.

The ABPS encourages physicians interested in expanding their career opportunities, whether through gaining employment or hospital privileges, to pursue certification with the BCFMO. To learn about its eligibility requirements, or the benefits of BCFMO certification, contact the ABPS today.


Save the Date
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