If you became eligible to apply for initial certification from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) before 2012 but haven't yet completed the certification process, you have until the end of this year to do. That's when your seven-year period of board eligibility will end.
According to the ABFM's current "Board Eligibility Policy,"(www.theabfm.org) the term "board-eligible" pertains solely to physicians who have completed residency but who have not yet attained initial certification. In general, board eligibility begins the day after successful completion of a physician's residency training in a family medicine residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and expires exactly seven years after that date.
In accordance with that policy, Jan. 1, 2012, marked the beginning of the seven-year eligibility period for those who became eligible to apply for initial certification before 2012. That eligibility period will end on Dec. 31, 2018.
To maintain their board-eligible status throughout that seven-year period, physicians must continuously adhere to the ABFM's "Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure and Personal Conduct,"(www.theabfm.org) and they must continue to actively participate in meeting the ABFM's Certification Entry Process(www.theabfm.org) requirements.
After a physician's seven-year period of board eligibility expires, he or she may no longer use the board-eligible designation and may not register to take the Family Medicine Certification exam without completing additional requirements. To regain board eligibility for seven more years, that physician must successfully complete at least one year in an ACGME-accredited family medicine residency training program or an ABFM-approved alternative.
According to an FAQ document from the ABFM(www.theabfm.org) that outlines, among other things, details of the process for regaining board eligibility, the required year of additional training must be equivalent to the third year of an ACGME-accredited family medicine residency program.
Physicians who find themselves in this situation are encouraged to reach out to the ABFM Support Center for assistance in determining next steps. The center may be reached by calling 877-223-7437 or via email.
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