American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)  
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Extended History of ABMS

On June 11, 1933, a handful of physicians met to talk about the education and certification of medical specialists. Together, they thought of building a national system of standards for recognizing specialists and providing information to the public. They formed the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties (today’s ABMS) - and created the framework for standards of excellence in the various specialties that physicians pursue and the public relies upon. Read the expanded history of ABMS through the links below.

History of ABMS
About ABMS
* Who We Are &
What We Do
About ABMS
Member Boards
Officers & Staff
Associate Members
* ABMS History
Extended History of ABMS
ABMS Leadership History
  ABMS Public Members
  ABMS Distinguished Service Award Recipients
Meaning of the ABMS Logo
ABMS Certification
Verification Products
ABMS Research &
Education Foundation
Career Opportunities

The Specialty Board Movement >
At the turn of the century specialism in medicine became regarded as a public trust and its devoted participants advocated a system of certification by individuals of special training inside the framework of a national specialty medicine organization.

Creation of the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties >
As the obstacle of graduate medical education opportunities for specialties began to diminish in the 1930s, the specialty board movement gained momentum. Focus shifted on creating a certifying agency for every specialty of medicine and surgery and an advisory board to consult on these activities.

Approval of New Member Boards >
Thorough review and careful consideration is taken before a new specialty board is accepted. A new board can only be established if such an additional area of medicine will be in the interest of the public and will elevate the standards of medical education and practice.

Expansion of Specialties and Growth of Subspecialties >
The development of new medical specialties has been an essential feature of the growth of modern scientific medicine. Each represents a distinct and well-defined field of medicine and reflects advancement in medical knowledge and practice.

Becoming ABMS >
As the significance of the Advisory Board increased it became more important that it function actively and efficiently in pursuing its objectives to advance the standards of the medical profession and to provide assurance that only those physicians will be certified who are qualified as specialists in the various branches of medicine and surgery.

Evolution of the Competency Movement >
After the establishment of certifying boards and the Advisory Board for Medical Specialties, the physician leaders of these organizations, appreciating their public accountability in issuing specialty certifications, considered best methods for ensuring the continued competence of a board certified practitioner.

Verifying Certification >
Communicating the fact of a physician’s board certification is as important as the qualification itself. Part of ABMS’ mission is to make this information accessible to everyone who is interested.

Enhancing The Public Trust >
For the past 75 years, ABMS and its Member Boards have been a leading and trusted resource for consumers and healthcare professionals seeking information on physician qualifications. Now, as the need for reliable information is greater than ever, ABMS has launched a new initiative to meet the goals of both physicians and the public for accountability and transparency in healthcare.

The information for this history has been compiled by ABMS staff through an examination of ABMS' records and documents. As with all historical reporting, the information we've provided is based on our understanding and interpretation of these records. If you find any factual inaccuracies, please advise us by contacting the Director of Marketing and Communications at (312) 436-2626