American Board of Medical Specialties

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American Board of Medical Specialties
Abms logo top.gif
Abbreviation ABMS
Motto Higher Standards. Better Care.
Formation 1933
Type Professional association
Headquarters Chicago, IL
Location
Official language
English
Chair
Valerie M. Parisi, M.D.
Chair-Elect
John C. Moorhead, MD, MS, FACEP
Secretary-Treasurer
John G. Clarkson, M.D.
President/CEO
Lois Margaret Nora, M.D., J.D., M.B.A.
Website

American Board of Medical Specialties

Certification Matters

Established in 1933, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is a non-profit organization of approved medical boards (officially referred to as the "Member Boards" (see below), which represent 24 broad areas of specialty medicine. ABMS is the largest physician-led specialty certification organization in the United States.[1]

ABMS Member Boards have maintained a rigorous process for the evaluation and Board certification of medical specialists. They certify specialists in more than 150 medical specialties and subspecialties. More than 80 percent of practicing physicians in the United States have achieved Board Certification by one or more of the ABMS Member Boards. The Member Boards support lifelong learning by physicians through the ABMS Maintenance of Certification (ABMS MOC) program. ABMS also collaborates with other professional medical organizations and agencies[vague] to set standards for graduate medical school education and accreditation of residency programs. ABMS makes information available to the public about the Board Certification of physicians and their participation in the ABMS MOC program.

Background[edit]

Since 1934, specialty boards were considered for membership in ABMS according to the standards set in the "Essentials for Approval of Examining Boards in Medical Specialties" created by ABMS and the American Medical Association Council on Medical Education (AMA/CME). In 1948, these efforts were formalized through the establishment of the Liaison Committee for Specialty Boards (LCSB), which is made up of representatives from ABMS and AMA/CME. Broadly stated, a medical specialty examining board must:

1. represent a distinct and well-defined field of medical practice;

2. solely offer a single standard of preparation for and evaluation of expertise;

3. offer distinct training to meet certification requirements;

4. demonstrate that candidates for certification will acquire, and then maintain, knowledge and skills in that field;

5. establish defined standards for training and a system for evaluation of educational program quality; and

6. demonstrate support from the relevant field of medical practice and broad professional support.

Steps Toward Initial Certification and MOC[edit]

Board Certification and the ABMS Program for Maintenance of Certification (ABMS MOC®) are highly-visible indicators that physicians know today’s standards of practice. Board Certification is the beginning of a physician’s personal commitment to providing quality patient care. The ABMS Program for MOC activities emphasize ongoing professional development and assessment that is aligned with other professional expectations and requirements within health care.

The information below provides an overview of the requirements for initial Board Certification and MOC. To learn more about the requirements for a specific specialty, contact the particular ABMS Member Board.[2]

Initial Certification[edit]

Physicians can demonstrate their expertise in a medical specialty by earning Board Certification through one of the 24 ABMS Member Boards. Before physicians can become Board Certified, however, they must first:

  • Finish four years of premedical education in a college or university;
  • Earn a medical degree (MD, DO or other credential approved by an ABMS Member Board) from a qualified medical school;
  • Complete three to five years of full-time experience in a residency training program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME);
  • Provide letters of attestation from their program director and/or faculty;
  • Obtain an unrestricted medical license to practice medicine in the United States or Canada; and
  • Pass a written and, in some cases, an oral examination created and administered by an ABMS Member Board.

Maintenance of Certification[edit]

Once Board Certified, physicians maintain their medical specialty expertise by participating in a robust continuous professional development program called the ABMS Program for MOC. The MOC program provides physicians a structured approach for enhancing patient care and improving patient outcomes through focused assessment and improvement activities, although it is highly questionable whether MOC indeed improves patient outcomes.

The ABMS Program for MOC involves ongoing measurement of six core competencies defined by ABMS and ACGME[3]:

  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement
  • Patient Care and Procedural Skills
  • Systems-based Practice
  • Medical Knowledge
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Professionalism

These competencies, which are the same ones used in the ACGME’s Next Accreditation System, are measured in the ABMS Program for MOC within a four-part framework[4]:

  • Part I: Professionalism and Professional Standing
  • Part II: Lifelong Learning and Self-Assessment
  • Part III: Assessment of Knowledge, Judgment, and Skills
  • Part IV: Improvement in Medical Practice

All Programs for MOC implemented by the Member Boards measure the same six competencies within the same four-part framework. While these elements are consistent across all Member Boards, what may vary, according to the specialty, are the specific activities the Member Boards use to measure these competencies. Despite some variation in the activities, they are all built upon evidence-based guidelines, national clinical and quality standards, and specialty best practices.

ABMS Member Boards[edit]

ABMS was incorporated in 1933. This list shows the year each board was approved as an ABMS Member Board.[5]

Founding Members

1935

1936

1937

1940

  • American Board of Neurological Surgery

1941

1947

  • American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
  • American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

1949

1969

1971

1979

1991

  • American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]