American Board of Physician Specialties

American Board of Physician Specialties

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) is a non-profit umbrella organization for nine medical specialty boards in the United States. It is one of three organizations overseeing Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) certification in the United States. The ABPS assists its Member Boards in developing and implementing educational and professional standards to evaluate and certify physician specialists.


The concept of a specialty board was first proposed in 1908 by Dr. Derrick T. Vail. In 1917, ophthalmology became the first officially incorporated board. The second specialty board, the American Board of Otolaryngology, was founded and incorporated in 1924. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1930) and the American Board of Dermatology and Syphilology (1932) followed. In 1934 an advisory board for all four specialty groups was organized. These Boards organized to form the American Board of Medical Specialties ABMS which now certifies nearly 85 percent of all physicians in the United States. In 2008 ABMS is celebrating its 75th year. There are 24 Member Boards of ABMS. Qualified physicians who have either Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) are eligible if they have successfully completed an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education ACGME approved residency training program.

The ABPS was founded in 1950 by Dr. E.O. Martin and incorporated in 1952. ABPS was established to provide a clinically recognized structure for board certification and recertification of qualified physicians who have either Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree training plus advanced training one of the AAPS affiliated medical specialties. Since 1984, AAPS has provided a headquarters for medical specialty boards of certification, meeting this essential need in the healthcare delivery system. In 2006 ABPS added its most recent medical specialty board on Disaster Medicine.

The membership of the ABPS consists of the chairperson of each of the nine autonomous boards of certification, three appointed Diplomates, two non-physician public members, and three ex-officio members from the American Association of Physician Specialists (AAPS) Board of Directors. ABPS is the first medical certification board in the United States to include active participation of public members. Public members also serve on the nine ABPS-affiliated boards of certification.

Member boards

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