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.®