It all began with an idea: establishing a system to assure the public that medical specialists are properly trained, and they continue learning new practices and treatments to provide better care. It meant creating some tough standards for education and evaluation. It also required forming a national system to enforce the standards and to identify qualified specialists in a way everyone can easily recognized.
The history of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) began during an extraordinary period in the development of specialty medicine. From the first conception of a specialty board in 1908, specialists have been coming together to advance the standards of their specialties through a national board system.
The creation of ABMS in 1933 naturally progressed from these early collaborations, providing a forum for discussing issues common to all specialties and firmly establishing the importance of graduate medical education and the recognition of specialists. In 1934, general qualifications and educational requirements for certification were outlined. Soon after these requirements were set, discussions began for how competence should be maintained throughout one’s career.
An Ongoing Process
Through the years, the process of board certification has been studied and revised to incorporate a broader and more comprehensive evaluation of physicians and specialists and their practices. Updated standards provide a comprehensive framework for Member Boards to design certification programs that support continuing professional development and help engage their physicians and specialists in activities relevant to their practice.
The medical specialty leaders of today are fueled by the same passion reminiscent of their forefathers who created ABMS 90 years ago: ensuring specialist competence, protecting patient safety, and sharing information about the certification process and the specialists who are board certified.
ABMS Member Boards
The primary function of each ABMS Member Board is to certify physicians in their primary specialty and subspecialty areas and to support the professional development of those board certified physicians throughout their career. This is accomplished through a comprehensive process involving educational requirements, professional peer evaluation, examination, and professional development.
The governing body of each individual specialty board comprises specialists qualified in the particular field represented by that board. Members of the governing bodies include representatives from among the national specialty organizations in related fields.
The ABMS Member Boards and the year approved as part of ABMS include:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Neurological Surgery
American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Board of Family Medicine
American Board of Emergency Medicine
American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics