Physician Certification vs. Medical Licensure

Medical LicensePhysician certification and medical licensure are both vital for career advancement. Yet, the two are important for very different reasons. Here is the major difference: medical licensure is required, while physician board certification technically is a voluntary achievement. It is technically voluntary, because anyone who hopes to achieve meaningful advancement in the field of a particular specialty will almost certainly need to become board certified in that specialty. Whereas, everyone who practices medicine must receive a medical license from the state or states where they intend to practice.

One way to think about medical licensure and physician certification is to compare the process of becoming a practicing physician to that of becoming a professional racecar driver. At a certain point in your driving career, usually when you’re just starting out, you are required to earn a driver’s license in order to be on the road behind the wheel. But earning that license doesn’t mean you’re ready for NASCAR. Excelling at the highest levels of any profession requires experience and talent, and there are tried and true methods in place for measuring someone’s competence in a given field.

Similarly, once you have earned your medical license, there still is a lot of work to do in order to achieve physician board certification. And once you have accomplished the necessary work experience and training, you need a reliable, clinically based method of measuring your skill and knowledge in the core competencies associated with your chosen specialty. That’s where the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) comes into the picture. As one of the most respected multi-specialty board certification bodies in the United States, the ABPS provides licensed, qualified physicians the opportunity to prove their worth to potential employers, patients, and peers. To learn more about the ABPS board certification process, contact us today. The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.

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Board certification through the American Board of Physician Specialties has served to substantiate my interest and additional training in several fields of medicine including Internal Medicine, Disaster Medicine, and Administrative Medicine. As a result, I have been able to serve my community in clinical, disaster response, and administrative medicine roles. Through the ABPS, I have become recognized as a leader in my various fields of interest.

Spencer Price MD, MPH, MBA
Internal Medicine, Disaster Medicine, Administrative Medicine
BCEM certification through ABPS has provided me with many opportunities. It has helped me demonstrate that I have special experience and expertise in Emergency Medicine beyond that obtained through my family medicine training. BCEM certification firmly established me as an emergency medicine specialist once I started working in emergency medicine full time. ABPS has also helped me network with other family physicians with a passion for improving rural and underserved emergency medicine practice.

Alex Beuning, MD, FAAEP
Emergency Medicine
Personal challenge and motivation compelled me to pass my ABPS board exam. Measurement and confirmation of my own knowledge base reinforced my self-confidence. The ABPS, with its history of inclusivity, has allowed me to have a voice in the organization, while permitting me to impact overall national patient safety and care through certification. Participation in exam development afforded me the opportunity to witness the rigorousness of the exam process and psychometrically sound product, while developing meaningful collegiality, professional life enrichment, and warding off burn out.

Elizabeth Maxwell-Schmidt MD, FAAEP, FACEP
Emergency Medicine