American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)  
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About Board Certification
* What Board
Certification Means
* Maintenance of
Certification (MOC)
* Certification and
MOC Annotated Bibliography
Medical specialty certification in the United States is a voluntary process. While medical licensure sets the minimum competency requirements to diagnose and treat patients, it is not specialty specific. Board certification—and the Gold Star—demonstrate a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.

The Gold Star signals a board certified physician’s commitment and expertise in consistently achieving superior clinical outcomes in a responsive, patient-focused setting. Patients, physicians, healthcare providers, insurers and quality organizations look for the Gold Star as the best measure of a physician’s knowledge, experience and skills to provide quality healthcare within a given specialty.

About the Certification Process.

Certification by an ABMS Member Board involves a rigorous process of testing and peer evaluation that is designed and administered by specialists in the specifi c area of medicine. Learn more about how a physician becomes board certified.

At one time, physicians were awarded certificates that were not time-limited and therefore did not have to be renewed. Later, a program of periodic recertification (every six to 10 years) was initiated to ensure physicians engaged in continuing education and examination to keep current in their specialty.

However, in 2006, ABMS’ 24 Member Boards adopted a new gold standard for re-certification with a continuous ABMS Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program for all specialties. MOC uses evidence-based guidelines and national standards and best practices in combination with customized continuing education so physicians demonstrate their leadership in the national movement for healthcare quality. MOC also requires proof of continuing education and experience in between testing for re-certification.

Learn more about MOC. Consumers can also learn more about The Importance of Board Certification and verifying physician certification. Hospitals, healthcare organizations, insurers and other professional organizations can fi nd out more about ABMS certification products and services.