Regaining Eligibility for Subspecialty Certification
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) approved a Board Eligibility Policy, effective January 1, 2018, that limits the period of time that may elapse between a physician’s completion of training and achievement of certification in a subspecialty. The ABOG is a member of the ABMS. The ABOG was required to establish an Eligibility Period of three to seven years for candidates to achieve subspecialty certification plus time in practice required for admissibility to the Subspecialty Certifying Examination. The ABOG established an eligibility interval of 8 years (seven plus one year) and a transition date of December 31, 2020.
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 unanticipated situations.
The ABOG has established a pathway to regain eligibility for subspecialty certification for physicians who never achieved subspecialty certification.
Pathways to Regain Eligibility for Subspecialty Certification
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). A pathway has been established to provide physicians whose eligibility for subspecialty certification is expired with the opportunity to regain admissibility to the subspecialty QEs and CEs.
Some physicians may not have passed the subspecialty 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 have to retake the QE.
To regain eligibility for subspecialty certification physicians must undergo six months of training or supervised practice in their respective subspecialty at an ACGME-accredited fellowship program or an ACGME-approved participating site of a fellowship.
Physicians may not elect to pursue this training until their eligibility expires in 2020.
4-Year Reestablishment of Eligibility Period
Individuals who lose eligibility for certification have a four-year interval to successfully regain eligibility to the subspecialty 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 2020 will be able to try to regain eligibility through 2024.
If the four-year period ends without regaining eligibility for certification, physicians will be required to complete a three-year ACGME-accredited fellowship in their respective subspecialty to regain eligibility to the certification process.
Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway
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, at either an ACGME-accredited fellowship program or an ACGME-approved participating site of a fellowship.
The supervised practice should be full-time and must extend over a minimum of 6 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 at least one ABOG-certified subspecialist as well as 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 subspecialty care. The physician may have full medical staff membership and unrestricted privileges or trainee medical staff membership and supervised privileges similar to those of trainees.
The candidate must submit a proposal of the planned clinical experiences for approval before starting the pathway to ABOG at email@example.com. One physician at the practice site should be proposed as the primary mentor. The mentor should be a faculty member who is ABOG-certified and actively involved in fellowship training. S/he 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. Upon completion, the designated mentor will submit a letter to ABOG verifying that the individual has completed the supervised experience satisfactorily and is capable of independent subspecialty practice.
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway
Specific Requirements: This experience must include hands-on care of pre-operative and post-operative patients and major and minor FPMRS surgery. It must include care of women with pelvic floor disorders in an office setting. The experience should cover the field of FPMRS.
Gynecologic Oncology (GYN ONC) Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway
Specific Requirements: This experience must include hands-on care of pre-operative and post-operative patients and major and minor GYN ONC surgery. It must also include care of women with gynecologic cancer in an office setting. The physician must care for chemotherapy and radiation therapy patients during their experience.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway
Specific Requirements: This experience must include hands-on care of antenatal, intrapartum, and post-partum women. The physician must have exposure to obstetric critical care and performance of vaginal and cesarean deliveries. It must include care of women with complicated pregnancies in an office setting, and the physician must provide genetic counseling and ultrasound.
Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway
Specific Requirements: This experience must include hands-on care of pre-operative and post-operative patients and major and minor REI surgery. It must include care of women with infertility and endocrine disorders in an office setting.
After Re-establishing Eligibility
Once a candidate has successfully completed the Supervised Practice and Assessment Pathway in their subspecialty, they are eligible to become certified for four years.
Candidates must meet all of the eligibility criteria as described in the appropriate subspecialty 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 ABOG portal 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 Pathway experience in their Case Lists for the examination. 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 four-year period ends without achieving certification, physicians will be required to complete a three-year fellowship in their subspecialty in an ACGME‐accredited program to regain eligibility to the certification process.
Policy approved on 4/06/2018
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) recognizes that patients have diverse gender identities and is striving to use gender-inclusive language in its publications, literature, and other printed and digital materials. In some instances, ABOG uses 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, male, or non-binary. 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. When describing or referencing study populations used in research, ABOG will use the gender terminology reported by the study investigators.
Updated June 2021