Board Certification Standards

Developed by practicing physicians and based on research and professional expertise, the standards and competencies for board certification describe what accomplished specialty physicians should know and do to make a positive impact on patient care. Through board certification, ABMS Member Boards identify physicians who meet those standards.

The standards are specialty-specific, going beyond those required for state licensure. They provide a foundation for the board certification process and incorporate core competencies integral to quality patient care. These are: practice-based learning and improvement, patient care and procedural skills, systems-based practice, medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, and professionalism.

Physicians meet the Standards for Initial Certification[PDF] in order to become board certified. Additional continuing certification standards (Standards for the ABMS Program for MOC[PDF]) guide the process of ongoing assessment and learning over the course of a physician’s career. The standards are designed to help physicians maintain up-to-date knowledge, enhance quality clinical outcomes and promote patient safety. They also help the ABMS Member Boards create assessment and evaluation systems, select learning programs and improvement activities, and pioneer new pathways for physicians to learn the latest innovations in their specialty.

Our community of Member Boards evaluates the standards, incorporating advances in technology and science, and changes to regulation and delivery systems, to ensure that board certification is a rigorous, yet flexible, process that continues to evolve and meet the needs of physicians and their varied practices.