Board certification for physicians is a voluntary process in which a doctor must initially pass a written exam administered by American Board of Medical Specialties in his area of specialty, such as dermatology, states the American Board of Medical Specialties. Some specialties require an oral examination with the Board as well.
To become a board certified physician, an individual must first become a doctor by obtaining a medical degree, with a MD, DO or other approved credential, from a qualified medical school after receiving a four year premedical degree, states the ABMS. After graduation, the person must complete a residency training program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. An individual also needs a medical license that allows unrestricted practice across the United States or Canada.
Certification is not guaranteed for life after passing the written and oral exams, states the ABMS. A board certified doctor must meet six categories of competency in order to remain certified. These six categories include patient care and procedural skills, medical knowledge, system-based practice, professionalism, practice-based learning and improvement. Specific requirements periodically evaluated by the Board vary from specialty to specialty.
To remain certified, a doctor must also remain current with the latest improvements in his field, and effectively practice ethics and patient safety, states the ABMS MOC.