Ophthalmology Eligibility Requirements

Revised March 2009

To be eligible for certification in Ophthalmology, through the Board of Certification in Ophthalmology the applicant must:

  1. Submit an Ophthalmology application form, complete with required application processing fee, two (2) passport-size photographs taken within the last 90 days, and a notarized signature.
  2. Be in conformity with the Code of Ethics of the American Board of Physician Specialties, be known in his/her community as an ethical member of the profession, and be an active specialist in Ophthalmology.
  3. Be a graduate of a recognized college of medicine, confirmed by a copy of an allopathic/osteopathic degree, or a letter of verification from the institution where the degree was earned. In the case of foreign medical schools, an English translation of the document is also required. Graduates of foreign medical schools must also include a copy of the ECFMG Certificate. Canadian medical schools and medical training programs are considered equivalent to U.S. medical schools and medical training programs.
  4. Hold a valid and unrestricted license to practice medicine in the United States or its territories or in Canada and submit copies of all licenses. License(s) must include date of expiration.
  5. Submit current curriculum vitae which includes medical school experiences and degrees earned in chronological order.
  6. Have completed an ACGME-accredited PGY-1 program, or an AOA-accredited internship.
  7. Completed an AOA-accredited Osteopathic residency or an ACGME-accredited residency in Ophthalmology.The ABPS now accepts all residencies accepted by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC). ABPS therefore now accepts all residencies approved by ACGME, AOA, or RCPSC. It should be noted that the ABPS accepts ALL medical residencies approved by the RCPSC, including approved residencies outside Canada.
  8. Submit an attestation from the Residency Training Program Director that the applicant is sufficiently trained to perform surgery.
  9. Submit three (3) letters of recommendation from Diplomates of an ABPS, AOA, or ABMS-recognized board of certification. Letters of recommendation must be current (dated no more than one year prior to the date the application is received by the ABPS) and on letterhead stationery, which includes a telephone number. Letters submitted on plain paper, with no address or telephone number of the signatory, are not acceptable. The board requires original letters; copies are not acceptable. The BCS recommends that letters be sent to the applicant to be included with the other application documents.
  10. Submit verification of staff privileges, by means of a letter from the administrator of each hospital at which privileges are held confirming good standing at that hospital.
  11. Submit a documented summary of a minimum of twenty (20) surgical cases in which the applicant had the lead role in managing. Case reports must be no older than twelve (12) months from the date the candidate’s application for certification is received by ABPS. Case reports should only include information on the care and services provided by the applicant. At the point where a patient’s care is transferred to another physician or facility, the applicant’s case presentation is complete.
  12. All U.S. physicians must do a self-Query of the national Practitioner Data Bank and submit a sealed (unopened envelope) copy of the report as part of the application process. The report need not be submitted with the application but must be provided in order for the applicant to be approved to take the written examination. For information on performing a self-query of the Bank, go to the website www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov for information. All Canadian physicians must request and submit a testament statement from each province in which a license is held, verifying that there have been no disciplinary actions against the applicant.
  13. All physicians must allow AAPS to perform a background check, attested by initialing the appropriate line on the application form.
  14. All physicians must submit the signed candidate appeal form.
  15. Payment of appropriate fees. To view the fee schedule, click here.

To have an application considered by the BCS Credentials Committee, all application documents must be compiled in a notebook. The BCS recommends that the applicant keep a copy of all application documents submitted to the ABPS.

Case Report Requirements

The applicant must submit four (4) separately compiled copies of twenty (20) case reports in the following format:

  1. Case reports must be typewritten. Photocopies of typewritten case reports are acceptable.
  2. Case reports must be double-spaced on standard 8.5″ x 11″ white paper.
  3. Case reports must be in a hard, report style binder, or a three-ringed notebook.
  4. The applicant must sign each case report.
  5. An index shall be placed at the front of the reports indicating the type of case (diagnosis) and the page number on which the case can be found. To view sample index and verification form, click here.
  6. Confirmation of the validity of the reports by hospital administrator, medical records director, or whoever performs such duties at the facility. This must be on official letterhead verifying that you were the physician treating the patient in each case on the date stated. If the applicant’s cases reflect work at more than one institution, then separate letters must be submitted verifying the cases from each institution. This validation must be notarized and signed. (Refer to the sample index/verification form.)
  7. Case reports shall contain the following information:
    For patient #, list the same number as the case number (Refer to sample index and verification form.)

    1. Date of admission and date of discharge
    2. Admitting diagnosis
    3. Final diagnosis
    4. Complaint
    5. History
    6. Physical and laboratory findings
    7. Summarization of the important facts regarding the case acts as the most essential part of the case report and must describe the case to convey to the BCS Credential Committee the vital facts of the diagnosis, care, end results obtained, etc.

Case reports must be carefully prepared, as they are subjected to detailed scrutiny. Reports should be accurate, well written, diversified, and properly descriptive. The BCS Credentials Committee reserves the right to seek additional details for any case it deems necessary.

If they are not submitted in the format described above, they will be returned to the applicant, resulting in an incomplete file.

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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