Regaining Eligibility for OB GYN Certification
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) approved a Board Eligibility Policy, effective January 1, 2012, that limits the period of time that may elapse between a physician’s completion of training and achievement of certification in a specialty. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) is a member of the ABMS.
The ABOG was required to establish a transition date between January 1, 2015, and January 1, 2019, for candidates who had completed their training but not yet achieved certification to achieve it.
The ABOG was also required to establish an Eligible Time Period of three to seven years for candidates to achieve certification plus time in practice required for admissibility to the Certifying Examination. The ABOG established an eligibility interval of 8 years (seven plus one year) and a transition date of December 31, 2018.
Importantly, ABOG does not recognize the term “Board Eligible,” however, its policies appropriately limit the time interval that may elapse before a physician becomes board-certified. The terms for ABOG certification statuses are described in the Types of Board Status policy.
The ABOG may waive the eligibility rule or extend the eligible interval for candidates in instances of military deployment, government service, acute illness or other individual instances. Time spent in fellowship programs accredited by ABOG or the ACGME will not be counted as part of the eight-year eligibility interval.
When a physician does not achieve certification within the eight-year period, that physician must cease from representing him/herself as being a Registered Residency Graduate, an Active Candidate, or “board eligible” for certification. The physician is no longer eligible for certification until completing all requirements of ABOG to regain eligibility for certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The ABOG has established a pathway to regain eligibility for certification for physicians who never achieved it in the specialty.
The ABOG has established a policy for achieving certification in a subspecialty after completion of an accredited fellowship program. That policy will be effective December 31, 2020.
Pathway to Regain Eligibility for Certification in Obstetrics and Gynecology
The name of the Written Examination has been changed to the Qualifying Examination (QE), and the name of the Oral Examination has been changed to the Certifying Examination (CE). Pathways have been established to provide physicians whose eligibility for certification is expired with the opportunity to regain admissibility to the:
- Qualifying Examination (QE) in Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Certifying Examination (CE) in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Some physicians may not have passed the QE, and others may have passed the QE but did not pass the CE. The ABOG will treat these situations in different ways. This means that some physicians must regain eligibility for the QE, and some must regain eligibility for the CE. For this new policy, physicians who have previously passed the QE on their last attempt will not be required to repeat this examination for certification.
Four-Year Reestablishment of Eligibility Period
Individuals who lose eligibility for certification have a four-year interval to successfully regain eligibility to the certification process. The four-year period begins immediately once eligibility has been lost. If an individual decides to delay pursuing regaining eligibility, this time will count toward the four-year period. This means that physicians whose eligibility expires in 2018 will have the opportunity to regain eligibility through 2022.
If the four-year period ends without regaining eligibility for certification, physicians will be required to complete a full ACGME or RCPSC- (in Canada) accredited residency to regain eligibility to the certification process.
Supervised Practice and Assessment
The purpose of the requirement is to provide the ABOG with an independent assessment of the individual’s contemporary competence during and after a supervised practice experience of at least six months.
The supervised practice must involve direct patient care, with hands-on experience, in a hospital associated with an ACGME- or an RCPSC- (in Canada) accredited OB GYN residency program. The hospital may be a primary or an affiliated training site.
The supervised practice should be full-time and must extend over a minimum of six months. The required experiences may be spread over a longer interval to accommodate personal needs. If a part-time plan is proposed, it must ensure consistent supervision and continuity of experience.
This experience must be under the supervision of ABOG-certified physicians as well as senior residents or subspecialty fellows, if appropriate. The goal is to provide sufficient exposure time for supervisors to provide a valid assessment of the individual’s contemporary competence to practice unsupervised obstetrics, gynecology and primary care of women. The physician may have full medical staff membership with unrestricted privileges or trainee medical staff membership with supervised privileges similar to those of trainees.
The candidate must submit a proposal for the planned clinical experiences to the ABOG for approval before starting the pathway using firstname.lastname@example.org. One physician at the practice site should be proposed as the primary mentor and verify the individual’s satisfactory completion of the supervised experience and that the candidate is capable of independently practicing obstetrics, gynecology, and primary care for women. This mentor should be a residency program faculty member who is actively involved in instructing trainees or medical students and is certified by ABOG. He/she will use direct observation and input from other physicians to determine the physician’s competence to practice independently during and at the completion of the experience.
- Inpatient Obstetrics: This experience must include care of antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum patients. The physician should perform vaginal and cesarean deliveries. It must consist of a minimum of eight weeks or two months.
- Inpatient Gynecology: This experience must include care of pre-operative and postoperative patients and major and minor gynecologic surgery. It must consist of at least eight weeks or two months.
- Ambulatory outpatient care: This experience should include obstetric, gynecologic and women’s primary care in an outpatient office setting. It must consist of at least eight weeks or two months.
After the Successful Reestablishment of Eligibility
Once a candidate has completed the Supervised Practice and Assessment, and the completion has been approved by ABOG, they are eligible to regain certification for four years.
Candidates must meet all of the eligibility criteria as described in the CE or QE Bulletin for the year they are taking the examination. When a candidate meets the eligibility requirements, s/he will be given an application link on their personal dashboard at www.abog.org.
If a candidate must take the QE, s/he may apply for the CE before the release of the QE results in each of the four years that a candidate is eligible for the QE. If a candidate does not pass the QE, s/he will not be allowed to take the CE; and a portion of their fees will be refunded.
Candidates for the CE may include patients from the Supervised Practice and Assessment experience in their Case Lists for the examination if they held full privileges during the experience. These patients may supplement the candidate’s patient list, but they may not be the only patients composing the candidate’s Case List. If the candidate was fully supervised (and not in independent practice) during the experience, they may not use cases from this six month period.
If the four year period ends without achieving certification, physicians will be required to complete a four-year residency in an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited program to regain eligibility for the certification process.
Policy approved on 5/3/2018
In its literature, publications, and other materials (digital and print), ABOG makes use of the word "woman" (and the pronouns "she" and "her") to describe patients or individuals whose sex assigned at birth was female, whether they identify as female or male, as well as non-binary individuals who identify as both genders or neither gender. As gender language continues to evolve in the scientific and medical communities, ABOG will periodically reassess this usage and will make appropriate adjustments as necessary.