ABMS Board Certification Report
The ABMS Board Certification Report[PDF] for 2021–2022 is a compilation of demographic information about ABMS Member Board certified physicians and specialists (known as diplomates), the specialty and subspecialty certificates approved by ABMS, the basic requirements for initial certification and continuing certification, and the number of certificates issued.
- A companion publication, the ABMS Guide to Medical Specialties provides information about board certification and the specialties and subspecialties in which ABMS Member Boards offer certification.
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ABMS Board Certified Diplomates: A Population Overview
The 2021–2022 ABMS Board Certification Report[PDF] reflects a growing population of board certified physicians and medical specialists (also known as diplomates) who use board certification to demonstrate their specialty expertise and continued commitment to provide safe, high-quality, and effective care.
The report shows that as of June 30, 2022 there were 978,425 individuals (see Table 3C in the report) with an active board certification in one or more of the 40 specialties and 89 subspecialties approved by ABMS. Tables 1A and 1B in the report list the specialty and subspecialty certificates approved by ABMS. See Figure 1 in the report for the total number of board certified diplomates per ABMS Member Board.
Geographic Distribution of ABMS Member Board Diplomates
Geographic distribution of the ABMS Member Board diplomates was computed using data from the ABMS Board Certification Database, along with United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2020) data for population estimates. The state totals as of June 30, 2022 in Table 3C of the report provide information about the distribution of diplomates by Member Board and state. The figure below shows the diplomate distribution per 10,000 at the state level.
Age and Gender Breakdown
The breakdown of age and gender for the diplomate population continues to change over time. As shown below, the younger cohort shows an even distribution between men and women in contrast to older cohorts. At this time, 30.2% of all active diplomates are women, while 64.8% are men. Note that 5.6% of diplomates are unknown. Currently, the median age of an ABMS board certified diplomate is 55 and the mean age is 56.9. The figure below shows the distribution of ABMS Member Board diplomates across gender and age groups.
ABMS Member Boards awarded 38,901 new specialty certificates and 16,100 new subspecialty certificates (see Table 3A and Table 3B in the report) to physicians and medical specialists during 2021. In looking at the number of active certifications held, many ABMS Member Board diplomates choose to maintain more than one certification to further demonstrate additional specialized medical expertise. About 25% of ABMS Member Board diplomates have at least two active certificates.
The ABMS Board Certification Database shows that as of June 30, 2022, there were 690,518 diplomates participating in continuing certification. Continuing certification is the ongoing process of board certification that simultaneously supports diplomates in keeping their knowledge and skills current while validating their increasing expertise in a specialty.
The process has developed during the last 20 years. Initial certification is the entry point for diplomates to participate in continuing professional development through focused, relevant, and accessible activities and assessments (see Table 2C). Board certified diplomates are required to participate in ongoing activities to maintain certification. Some do not, however, because the requirement was not in place when they were first certified. The ABMS Member Boards strongly encourage these individuals to participate voluntarily. The figure below shows the increase of the number of ABMS Member Board diplomates participating in continuing certification.