Time limits on certification clarify who is board eligible

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 11, 2012

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New rules from the American Board of Medical Specialties mean that physicians have five to seven years to achieve board certification after residency training, depending on their specialty.

The ABMS and its 24 member boards set the time limits to avoid abuse of the term “board eligible,” the ABMS said. Although never officially recognized, it’s a term used to signal a physician’s intent to become certified.

But some use the term misleadingly, said Lloyd B. Morgan, ABMS interim chief executive. “ABMS and its member boards believe very strongly that patients, health systems and others & have a right to know what it means when physicians call themselves board-eligible,” he said in a statement. “It is a disservice to these stakeholders to allow physicians to use the designation indefinitely.”

Physicians who don’t achieve certification within the limits must restart the process and face penalties if they falsely describe themselves as board eligible. ABMS announced the policy Feb. 7 and released individual boards’ limits May 30 (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at

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