Beginning in 2018, physicians have to achieve certification within eight years of the completion of residency training. Specifically:
- If your eligibility expires, you won't be able to apply for either the Qualifying or Certifying Exams until you have completed a minimum of six months of supervised practice.
- Years spent in an ABOG- or ACGME-accredited obstetrics and gynecology subspecialty (fellowship) training program or second residency will not count toward the eight-year limit.
- However, when there's an interval of one or more years between the completion of residency training and the start of additional ACGME-approved training, that year(s) will count toward the eight-year limit.
For fellows in an ACGME-accredited fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Gynecologic Oncology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, or a government fellowship program, an additional year of eligibility is added for every year of training completed.
Fellowship training in any program other than an ACGME-accredited Gynecologic Oncology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, or government fellowship program will not extend the eight-year limit.
If you elect to participate in a second ACGME-accredited residency, you'll be given an additional year of eligibility for every year of training.
If you fail to become certified within eight years, you'll be required to complete a minimum of six months of supervised practice to regain eligibility. For complete details about "Regaining Eligibility," refer to the policy titled Regaining Eligibility for OB GYN Certification. For information specific to the supervised practice and assessment portion of this policy, see below.
Supervised Practice and Assessment
The purpose of the requirement is to provide ABOG with an independent assessment of your 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 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 your contemporary competence to practice unsupervised obstetrics, gynecology, and primary care of women. You may have full medical staff membership with unrestricted privileges or trainee medical staff membership with supervised privileges similar to those of trainees.
You must submit a proposal for the planned clinical experiences to ABOG for approval before starting the pathway using email@example.com. One physician at the practice site should be proposed as the primary mentor and verify your satisfactory completion of the supervised experience and that you're 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 your 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. You 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 post-operative 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 Re-Establishment of Eligibility
Once you've completed the Supervised Practice and Assessment, and the completion has been approved by ABOG, you're eligible to regain certification for four years.
You have to meet all of the eligibility criteria as described in the Qualifying or Certifying Exam Bulletin for the year you're taking the exam. When you meet the eligibility requirements, you'll be given an application link on your dashboard in the physician portal.
If you have to take the Qualifying Exam, you may apply for the Certifying Exam before the release of the Qualifying Exam results in each of the four years that you're eligible for the Qualifying Exam. If you don't pass the Qualifying Exam, you won't be allowed to take the Certifying Exam and a portion of your fees will be refunded.
For the Certifying Exam, you may include patients from the Supervised Practice and Assessment experience in your case lists for the exam if you held full hospital privileges during the experience. These patients may supplement your patient list, but they may not be the only patients composing your cast list. If you were fully supervised (and not in an independent practice) during the experience, you can't use the cases from this six-month period.
If the four-year period ends without achieving certification, you'll be required to complete a four-year residency in an ACGME- or RCPSC-accredited program to regain eligibility for the certification process.
You need at least one unrestricted license to practice medicine in a US state or territory or a province of Canada to be eligible to apply for the Certifying Examination.
- Each medical license must not be restricted, suspended, on probation, revoked, nor include conditions of practice. The terms "restricted" and "conditions" include any and all limitations, terms, or requirements imposed on a physician's license regardless of whether they deal directly with patient care.
- If you've ever had any action taken against any medical license in any territory, province, or state of the United States or Canada, or any foreign country at any time, a written explanation must be provided with the application. Such actions include, but are not limited to, admonitions, reprimands, conditions, restrictions, probation, suspension, fines, required coursework, denial of application/renewal, and revocation.
- Actions must be reported even if they occurred in the past and are no longer active.
- ABOG will investigate every license(s) using various search techniques. The Board reserves the right to determine candidate eligibility to take the Certifying Exam after reviewing all material.
- If you fail to inform ABOG of any action against your medical license(s) in any state, territory, or foreign nation, you'll be ineligible to take the Certifying Exam for a minimum of three years.
An educational or institutional license does not meet this requirement unless you're currently in an ACGME-accredited fellowship training program. If you're currently enrolled in an ACGME-accredited fellowship program, you don't need to have an independent license to practice medicine. However, if such a license(s) is held, the license(s) must not have disciplinary or non-disciplinary restrictions.
Candidates for the 2021 Certifying Exam must be in an unsupervised clinical practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology from July 1, 2020, through June, 30, 2021.
- During that year of practice, no more than 24 weeks of leave is allowed for any reason. This includes medical leave, maternity leave, vacation, not starting practice by December 11, etc. Educational conferences do not count toward the 24 weeks of leave.
- Practice may include locum tenens work; however, if you are performing locum tenens work, you must contact the board prior to application.
- The number of days that equals a "week" is your usual number of work days in an average calendar work week.
If you can't meet the case list requirement as outlined in the case list section, you should either use an 18-month case list or use residency cases.
If you're in a non-ACGME-accredited fellowship related to the field of obstetrics and gynecology, you can apply for the Certifying Exam during your fellowship if you meet all of the additional requirements, including submission of an acceptable case list.
Time spent in a teaching or research appointment, or in a non-clinical fellowship or graduate education program that doesn't involve unrestricted privileges to practice as an obstetrician and gynecology and doesn't include clinical practice, will not fulfill the practice requirement.
If you practice outside of the United States, its territories, or Canada, you must submit, with the application, a letter(s) from a senior responsible officer in the hospital(s) where you practice, verifying that you're responsible for independent, unsupervised care of patients.
You have to meet all of the requirements in the Bulletin for the year for which you're applying for the test. For example, those applying for the 2021 Qualifying or Certifying Exams must meet the requirements in the 2021 Bulletins.
To qualify for the 2021 Certifying Examination, you must hold unrestricted hospital privileges to practice as an obstetrician-gynecologist in each of the hospitals in which you have been responsible for patient care.
The latest date you can obtain privileges and still qualify for the 2021 exam is December 11, 2020. If your privileges began December 11, 2020, you won't be able to take any time off for the rest of the case collection period.
- "Unrestricted hospital privileges" means that you're a member of the medical staff and have privileges to admit patients and to practice obstetrics and gynecology.
- If you hold hospital privileges in more than one hospital, you can give up privileges voluntarily as long as you still hold unrestricted privileges in another hospital.
- Privileges that are resigned or dropped in lieu of an investigation or adverse action are not considered to be given up voluntarily and must be reported.
- Required Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation (OPPE) or proctoring for new privileges are not considered a restriction for examination purposes.
- Any Focused Professional Practice Evaluation (FPPE) must be reported with the application and will be reviewed.
- When the quality of care, professionalism, or peer review activities have led to a limitation of privileges or required supervision, this is considered a restricted practice, and you're not eligible to take the Certifying Exam.
- If your privileges are under investigation, suspended, or on probation (for cause), you're not eligible to apply for the Certifying Exam until and unless the investigation is completed or the suspension or probation is lifted and full and unrestricted privileges are granted.
- If you're enrolled in a fellowship in an area of medicine related to obstetrics and gynecology, you're not required to hold hospital privileges. However, if you have such privileges, they must be unrestricted and not under investigation for any reason.
For any questions regarding limitations in privileges, please contact the Exams Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOG requires evidence of a candidate's professionalism and professional standing.
- Your professional reputation, moral and ethical character, and in-hospital practice privileges will be verified by administrative officials of organizations and institutions that know you and your practice.
- If you're involved in an investigation by a health care organization regarding practice activities or for ethical or moral issues, you will not be scheduled for the Certifying Exam. A decision to approve or disapprove the application will be deferred either until you have been cleared or until ABOG has received sufficient information to make a final decision.
- If you have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony, you'll not be allowed to take the Certifying Exam.