ABMS sets board certification time limits

June 13, 2012

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and its member boards have established limits to the number of years that can elapse between a physician’s completion of residency training and achievement of board certification.

Chicago - The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) and its member boards have established limits to the number of years that can elapse between a physician’s completion of residency training and achievement of board certification.

Although ABMS and its member boards have never recognized or defined the term “board eligible,” physicians often use the term to signal to patients, prospective employers and others that they intend to become board certified, the ABMS says in a news release.

An ABMS board-approved policy that went into effect Jan. 1 says it’s legitimate to claim board eligibility during a specified time, but prevents abuse by those who used the designation indefinitely.

Under the plan, member boards will establish and implement a transition plan for candidates who have completed residency training but not yet achieved initial certification as of the effective policy date. As of Jan. 1, 2019, the transition period will be complete and the policy will be in full effect, applicable to all candidates for certification by a member board.

Time limits set by each member board can be viewed here: http://www.abms.org/News_and_Events/downloads/ABMS_Board_Eligibility_Policy_by_Board_060612.pdf

A physician who does not become board-certified within the allotted time must restart the process per requirements of the medical board that oversees certification in his or her specialty. Physicians will face sanctions if they designate themselves as board-eligible beyond the established time limits.

The ABMS statement quotes Lloyd B. Morgan, interim ABMS chief executive, “ABMS and its member boards believe very strongly that patients, health systems and others who have a stake in high-quality health care have a right to know what it means when physicians call themselves board-eligible. It is a disservice to these stakeholders to allow physicians to use the designation indefinitely without undergoing the rigorous process of board certification.”

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