What is ABMS?

What Does it Mean if a Doctor is Board Certified?

Doctors who are board certified have participated in a voluntary process that involves evaluation of their knowledge and skills beyond what’s required for them to become licensed physicians. The standards for board certification, such as the type of evaluation, and whether additional education and training are required, vary depending on the certifying board.

What is the American Board of Medical Specialties?
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) is a not-for-profit organization made up of 24 Member Boards that certify physicians in a wide variety of medical specialties. The ABMS does not itself certify physicians, but rather is the umbrella board that establishes standards and provides information, support and guidance to its Member Boards. A limited number of Member Boards also certify some non-physician specialists such as in the areas of radiology and medical genetics.

What are the Standards for Board Certification by an ABMS Member Board? Board certification by and ABMS Member Board is widely recognized by physicians, healthcare institutions, insurers and patients as the gold standard in board certification and an essential tool to judge a physician’s knowledge, experience and skills for providing quality healthcare within a given specialty.
Certification by an ABMS Member Board indicates that the physician has:
• Earned a medical degree (MD, DO or other approved credential approved by the Member Board)
• Completed the accredited education and training
• Provided letters of attestation from the program director and/or faculty
• Fulfilled residency requirements
• Been licensed to practice medicine in at least one U.S. state, territory or Canada
• Passed rigorous tests and
• Met other ABMS Member Board-specific qualifications


How Many Doctors in the United States are Board Certified by an ABMS Member Board?
Nearly 85 percent of licensed U.S. physicians are board certified by an ABMS Member Board. How Did the Concept of Certification Come About? Until about a century ago, physicians typically were generalists, and did everything from treating the flu and delivering babies to performing surgery. The early and mid 1900s saw the rise of specialization in medicine, and physician leaders called for certification to ensure that doctors were well qualified to provide good care in their specialties. As individual medical specialties matured, professionals in the field formed boards that developed and enforced practice standards. Ophthalmology was the first specialty to form a board in 1917, and in 1933, four boards – Dermatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology – formed

How Many Doctors in the United States are Board Certified by an ABMS Member Board?
Nearly 85 percent of licensed U.S. physicians are board certified by an ABMS Member Board. How Did the Concept of Certification Come About? Until about a century ago, physicians typically were generalists, and did everything from treating the flu and delivering babies to performing surgery. The early and mid 1900s saw the rise of specialization in medicine, and physician leaders called for certification to ensure that doctors were well qualified to provide good care in their specialties. As individual medical specialties matured, professionals in the field formed boards that developed and enforced practice standards. Ophthalmology was the first specialty to form a board in 1917, and in 1933, four boards – Dermatology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology – formed
ABMS, originally called the Advisory Board of Medical Specialties. In 1991, the American Board of Medical Genetics became the last board to join. Today most, if not all, physicians are considered specialists.

How Many Medical Specialties are Covered by ABMS Member Boards? The vast majority of medical specialties are represented by the 24 ABMS Member Boards. These specialties and subspecialties have met various rigorous qualifications, including a residency and fellowshiptraining program that follows the standards set by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Most of the Member Boards encompass subspecialties. For instance, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) includes 17 subspecialties, ranging from the treatment of cardiovascular disease to sports medicine. The number of ABMS Member Board specialties undoubtedly will increase as medicine continues to evolve and new subspecialties are created to focus on particular aspects of patient care. The 24 Member Boards that make up ABMS include:

American Board of Allergy and Immunology
American Board of Anesthesiology
American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery
American Board of Dermatology
American Board of Emergency Medicine
American Board of Family Medicine
American Board of Internal Medicine
American Board of Medical Genetics
American Board of Neurological Surgery
American Board of Nuclear Medicine
American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology
American Board of Ophthalmology
American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
American Board of Otolaryngology
American Board of Pathology
American Board of Pediatrics
American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Board of Plastic Surgery
American Board of Preventive Medicine
American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
American Board of Radiology
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery
American Board of Urology

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