What Does Board Certification Mean?

What Does Board Certification Mean?For a physician, board certification is a mark of distinction. It indicates the education that he or she has undertaken beyond the minimal standards and competency requirements in a chosen specialty. For leaders of medical institutions, board certification signifies a physician’s achievement. It testifies to the mastery that the physician has shown in his or her respective field of medicine. At the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS), we believe that board certification provides yet another benefit that hospitals and physician leaders would appreciate – it not only identifies the most qualified physicians, but suggests which one would be the best fit for a job opening in a particular medical specialty.

The ABPS Maintains Rigorous Physician Board Certification Standards

As one of the three federally recognized multi-specialty certifying bodies in the United States, the ABPS has stringent eligibility requirements that have been defined by its Member Boards. These standards differ according to the boards’ specialties, but the focus on rigorous testing and training is consistent. The ABPS emphasizes psychometrically evaluated testing and advanced training in addition to experience and moral character. Consequently, doctors who have achieved board certification through the ABPS have proven through written, and in some cases oral or hands-on simulation, a mastery of the core body of knowledge and skills in their specialties as well as a willingness to adhere to the ABPS Medical Code of Ethics. It should be noted that the ABPS is the only medical board certifying body that requires physicians to take an ethics course for recertification.  As far as certifying standards are concerned, the three federally recognized multi-specialty certifying bodies – the ABPS, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) – set the most exacting standards.

Eligibility Requirements of the ABPS

The ABPS offers certification and recertification in a wide range of specialties, including several innovative specialties, such as disaster medicine and integrative medicine. Although each of the ABPS Member Boards has its own eligibility requirements, there are several general requirements that they all share, including:

  • Completion of an accredited residency
  • Attestation of an unrestricted medical license
  • Completion of between 15 and 50 hours of continuing medical education for recertification

To earn certification with an ABPS Member Board, candidates must pass a computer-based, written examination. Some Member Boards also require an oral exam. The written examination for each ABPS Member Board is multiple-choice format and developed by certified physicians as subject matter experts.

Board Certification Benefits Hospitals & the Patients They Serve

In order to be recertified, physicians must show a commitment to continuing medical education as well successfully complete a recertification exam. The ABPS believes that doctors who seek out education and keep abreast of the constantly changing medical field are best suited to deliver exceptional medical care. In essence, board recertification provides medical institutions the assurance that practicing physicians have continued to display a superior level of knowledge and skills.

With board certified physicians on staff, a hospital or clinic also delivers a recognizably positive message about its credentials to patients. Patients may be feeling especially vulnerable, so trusting that they are in competent and caring hands can go a long way toward quelling their anxieties and helping them heal. Board certification through the ABPS also means that hospitals may confidently consider ABPS Diplomates to fill leadership roles, and as leaders these respected physicians will be in a position to shape the medical profession for years to come.

Ultimately, board certification benefits health care as a whole. No matter what changes occur in the healthcare system, it will always be important that physicians are held to the highest standards of medical care and that they demonstrate their commitment to those standards. Board certification helps establish consistent standards for the evaluation of physicians.

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of physician board certification and why it is important to hospitals and clinics, contact the ABPS. The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists, Inc.®

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