Candidate Requirements & General Details
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Specialty (OB GYN) Certification Overview
- You can start the process of board certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in your fourth year of residency.
- Obtaining board certification is a completely voluntary process.
- To become board certified, you have to pass the Qualifying Exam (written test) to demonstrate that you have the special knowledge and skills required for medical and surgical care of women.
- You must collect cases reflecting your care prior to the Certifying Exam (oral exam).
- The Certifying Exam is given by a team of well-respected national experts; the exam tests your skills, knowledge and ability to treat different conditions. The examiners also review cases related to the patients that you've treated during the past year.
- ABOG notifies certain entities of the names of new Diplomates certified each year. See Notifying Entities of New Diplomates to learn more.
Important points to know if you're getting ready to pursue board certification:
- Upon completing medical residency, candidates complete an online application to take the qualifying exam.
- The online application is typically available in mid September, the year prior to the first exam date.
- You'll need your ABOG ID number to complete the application, which you can get from your residency manager.
- Your residency program director must attest to successful completion of your residence program via the "Residency Training Affidavit". While you can take the qualifying exam without yet having the affidavit on file with ABOG, you will not receive your qualifying exam results until ABOG has the signed affidavit from your program director.
- Be sure your email address and telephone number that you provide in your application are accurate. We recommend that you use a personal email address to prevent being locked out of your email once you have completed your residency training.
Below is a step-by-step list regarding the application process for the Qualifying Exam. The process for the Certifying Exam is slightly different.
- Complete online application.
- Pay the application fee. Watch for deadlines as late fees apply for applications received after the first deadline.
- Look for an email from ABOG that will be sent to you upon approval of your application.
- Look for instructions in your approval email from ABOG about reserving your spot at your nearest Pearson Vue Testing Center.
- Let ABOG know as soon as possible when applying if you may need accommodations for lactating or for a disability. We'll help to accommodate any need by working with Pearson Vue. You must let us know at least 90 days prior to exam date.
To be ruled admissible to the Qualifying Exam, your Residency Program Director has to complete a Residency Training Affidavit on your behalf.
Your Residency Program Coordinator can download the affidavit on the Residency Program Home Page under "Residency Tracking" 31 days prior to your residency completion date.
Via the affidavit, your Residency Program Director must verify that you:
- Will complete or have completed all local requirements.
- Will complete a minimum of 48 months of training.
- Are of good moral and ethical character.
- Have not taken leaves of absence or vacation exceeding prescribed limits. See "Eligibility Requirements" tab for details.
- Have completed a satisfactory resident experience log.
- Achieved appropriate knowledge, ability, and judgement in order to provide competent clinical care in obstetrics and gynecology, as documented by ongoing evaluation during the entire resident program.
- Are trained in the following list of procedures and evaluations:
- major abdominal and vaginal surgical procedures on the female reproductive organs and related structures;
- major surgical procedures for female urinary and fecal incontinence and other forms of pelvic dysfunction (reconstructive pelvic surgery);
- spontaneous and operative obstetric deliveries;
- surgical exploration of the abdomen;
- pelvic, abdominal and hysteroscopic endoscopic procedures;
- diagnostic evaluations including electronic fetal monitoring, ultrasonography, colposcopy, and urodynamic testing; and
- the diagnosis and treatment of complications of the above.
The affidavit must be completed and signed by your Program Director and submitted to the Board office. Results of the examination will not be released until the completed affidavit is received by the Board.
A new affidavit is not necessary if you have completed residency training and sat for the Qualifying Exam in a prior year (if an affidavit has been previously received at ABOG).
Becoming an ABOG Registered Residency Graduate
After completing or nearing completion of a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology, you may apply to begin the certification process, which starts with the Qualifying Exam. As you move toward this milestone, make note of the following:
- Your completed residency program needs to be accredited by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or, in Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
- Your status once you've completed your residency program and met the eligibility requirements for taking the Qualifying Exam, becomes that of a "Registered Residency Graduate."
- Note: The term "Board Eligible" is not used or recognized by ABOG.
Becoming an Active Candidate
- Once you pass the Qualifying Exam, your status changes to "Active Candidate."
- To maintain "Active Candidate" status, you'll need to meet certain requirements that will gain you admission to take the Certifying Exam.
- Since 2010, physicians seeking certification are required to achieve it within 8 years. The clock starts as soon as you complete your residency.
- If you aren't certified within 8 years, you'll be required to complete a minimum of 6 months of additional training at an ACGME-accredited training program to regain eligibility to apply for the Qualifying Exam (see next section below titled "Additional 6-Month Training").
- Training in an ACGME-accredited residency or fellowship doesn't count toward the 8-year limit.
- Participation in other fellowships or graduate education programs doesn't extend the 8-year limit.
Additional 6-Month Training
- If you fall into the category of needing the additional 6-month training in an ACGME-accredited training program (because you didn't become certified within the 8-year time limit), consider contacting residency programs in your state for options.
- Remember this: You'll need to be licensed in the same state where you receive your additional training.
- Training needs to include all aspects of Obstetrics and Gynecology, including both inpatient and outpatient care.
- You must also attend didactic activities.
- Once you've been accepted by a program, submit an overview of that program to ABOG for approval.
- Once you complete the additional 6-month program, you have 4 years to become certified.
- If you were certified but let your certification lapse and expire, then you have to take and pass both the Qualifying and Certifying Exams again.
- In this scenario, after taking and passing the Qualifying Exam, you have 4 years to take and pass the Certifying Exam.