ABMS Board Eligibility Policy

ABMS defines board eligibility as the period of time between when a physician completes an accredited residency program and when initial Board Certification in a specialty is achieved.

On January 1, 2012 ABMS established a Board Eligibility Policy which places limits on this time period. The policy recognizes physicians’ need to use the term "Board Eligible" as a way to signal their preparations for specialty certification. At the same time, it closes off the potential for abuse through use of the term indefinitely.

Policy in Practice

ABMS Member Boards with an existing board eligibility policy aligned their board eligible periods with the principles of the established ABMS Board Eligibility Policy.

Member Boards that did not have an existing policy in place established a board eligible period of three (3) to seven (7) years for physicians to achieve initial certification following successful completion of accredited training plus time (if any) in practice. Additionally, the Member Boards established transition dates for physician candidates who had completed training, but not yet achieved initial certification in a specialty as of the ABMS Board Eligibility Policy’s effective date. Member Boards chose a date between January 1, 2015 - January 1, 2019 for these candidates to achieve initial certification.

Each Board's transition dates can vary. See Board Eligibility Periods and Transition Dates table.

Each board selected a transition date for when their policy goes into effect. The physician must again complete all requirements of the ABMS Member Board that oversees certification in his or her specialty for admissibility to the certification examination.