Doctors are certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties. ABMS was founded in 1933, and is comprised of 24 distinct specialties in which health care workers can apply for certification.
The purpose of becoming board certified is to establish that a physician has achieved and maintains the highest standards of excellence in treating patients with up-to-date care. It also increases the trust that patients have in their doctors' ability to administer knowledgeable and correct treatment in specific fields of medicine, according to ABMS.
In order to become certified in a specialized field of medicine, doctors must adhere to a stringent set of criteria. They must complete four years of university-level premedical studies, obtain a degree in medicine from an accredited medical school and train three to five years as a full-time resident of an approved medical facility.
To complete certification, the practitioner must obtain letters of corroboration from their program administrators, procure a license to practice medicine in America or Canada and pass the ABMS examination for their chosen medical specialty. After becoming board certified, physicians must participate in the Maintenance of Certification program for the duration of their careers. This involves taking ongoing continuing education classes to keep abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments, and incorporating them into their own patient care practices.