The Difference Between Licensure and Board Certification

Board Certification & LicensureThere is a crucial difference between being licensed to practice medicine and being a board certified physician, which is why it is important that patients understand the two concepts in order to select the most qualified physicians in their communities. A medical license is a minimum requirement that all physicians must receive in order to be eligible to practice medicine. To be eligible, the candidate must be able to prove that he or she successfully finished medical school and completed postgraduate training, usually a residency. Additionally, licensure requires the successful completion of a standardized examination and each candidate is required to reveal any potential conflicts that could impede their ability to provide care. If all eligibility requirements are successfully met, the physician is granted a license, which will need to be updated every one or two years depending on the state.

Board certification, on the other hand, is specialty specific. Where licensure does not differentiate between areas of practice, board certification is focused entirely on the physician’s specialty. This is an extremely important differentiator because, as the modern healthcare sector gets more and more specialized, board certification is a helpful tool for singling out physicians who have the advanced training and verifiable experience needed to truly be recognized as trusted physician specialists.

At the American Board of Physician Specialties®, we provide board certification to highly qualified physician candidates in all 50 states, as well as throughout Canada and Puerto Rico. To receive this credential through our organization, the candidate must:

  • Meet our minimum eligibility requirements including completion of an accredited residency
  • Have extensive experience in their specialty area
  • Successfully complete a standardize written (and sometimes oral) examination

Furthermore, board certification needs to be renewed regularly, and the re-certification process entails a commitment to continuing medical education to ensure that our Diplomates remain up to date on the best practices in their specialties.

In summary, a medical license is a minimum requirement to practice medicine in North America, while obtaining board certification is a rigorous, specialty-specific process that identifies physicians who merit the distinction of being called specialists. If you are a physician who is considering pursuing board certification, contact the ABPS today.

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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.

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