• Board Eligibility

    ABEM will recognize physicians as board eligible for five years after they complete an Emergency Medicine residency training program, effective January 1, 2015.  Physicians who have open certification applications on file with ABEM and those who graduated from Emergency Medicine residency training, but do not have open applications as of that date will also be designated as board eligible if their medical licensure status complies with ABEM policy.

    Starting in 2015, physicians must be board eligible to pursue ABEM certification, which consists of three steps:

    1)   Approval as meeting ABEM eligibility requirements for Emergency Medicine

    2)   Passing the ABEM Qualifying Examination

    3)   Passing the ABEM Oral Certification Examination.

    Board eligible physicians who do not achieve certification during their first period of board eligibility can be designated as board eligible for a second five-year period by meeting specific requirements.

    However, after a second term of board eligibility has passed, or if the necessary requirements were not met by the end of the first period of board eligibility, physicians must complete additional training to become board eligible again.  ABEM is reviewing what the additional training will entail.

    Please see the FAQs on Board Eligibility and the ABEM Policy on Board Eligibility for more detailed information.


    In the past, the term “board eligible” was not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), ABEM, and most of the 23 other ABMS Member Boards. Candidates for certification had no time limit to become certified, which gave board eligibility little meaning. Despite this, the term has been commonly used among credentialing organizations and by physicians.

    The ABMS charged each medical specialty board to implement a policy on board eligibility that would restrict the length of time for physicians to become certified.

    In 2012, the ABEM Board of Directors approved a policy that restricts the length of time physicians have to become certified and tightens the connection between training and certification. Research has shown that physicians lose knowledge and skills as the years pass after their training. The requirements of the ABEM MOC Program address this through continuous professional development. The new ABEM policy regarding board eligibility addresses this issue primarily by placing limits on the time that can elapse before physicians are certified and by requiring annual learning activity if they delay any portion of the certification process. This policy also meets the need of physicians to use the term “board eligible” legitimately during the period that they are working toward certification.

    FAQs on Board Eligibility

    Policy on Board Eligibility