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Specialty Certifying Exam Eligibility Requirements

Beginning in 2018, physicians have to achieve certification within 8 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 6 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 8-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 8-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, 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 8-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.

Regaining Eligibility

If you fail to become certified within 8 years, you'll be required to complete a minimum of 6 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 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 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 exams@abog.org. 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.

Specific Requirements:
  • 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 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 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 Certifying Exam or Qualifying 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 personal dashboard at abog.org.

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 privileges during the experience. These patients may supplement your patient list, but they may not be the only patients composing your Case List. If you were fully supervised (and not in independent practice) during the experience, you can't use 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.


Unrestricted License to Practice Medicine

You need at least one unrestricted license to practice medicine in a U.S. 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 3 years.

Educational or Institutional Licenses

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.

Actively Engaged in Unsupervised Clinical Practice

Candidates for the 2019 Certifying Exam must be in an unsupervised clinical practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
  • During that year of practice, no more than 12 weeks of leave is allowed for any reason. This includes medical leave, maternity leave, vacation, not starting practice by July 1, etc. Educational conferences do not count toward the 12 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 requirements 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 gynecologist and doesn't include clinical practice, will not fulfill the practice requirement.


Practice in a Country Other Than the United States or Canada

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.

Other Requirements

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 2019 Qualifying or Certifying Exams must meet the requirements in the 2019 Bulletins.

Unrestricted Hospital Privileges

To qualify for the 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 between July 1, 2018, and the date of your exam.

The latest date you can obtain privileges and still qualify for the exam is October 1, 2018. If your privileges began October 1, 2018, 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 Examination Department at exams@abog.org.

Approval of Application and Review of Licensure and Privileges

If the application, licensure, and privileges are acceptable after review by ABOG, you'll be notified by July 12, 2019. You'll then be asked to submit case lists (see below).

The case lists should not be submitted until you are notified of approval from the Board.

ABOG reserves the right to make the final decision concerning the applicant’s admission to the Certifying Examination after considering all circumstances affecting the individual situation, including a review of the case lists.

At the time of application and on the day of the Certifying Examination, you must sign the following terms of agreement. If you refuse to sign the agreement, you'll not be allowed to take the Certifying Exam.


  1. I understand and irrevocably agree that, if I am certified as a Diplomate of ABOG, ABOG is authorized to provide my name and business address for publication in the following: Obstetrics & Gynecology, The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and other ABMS and AMA certification publications. In addition, my name and business address will be forwarded to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  2. I agree that the ABOG is authorized to make my name and business address available on request to the public, including, but not limited to, hospitals, insurers, government agencies, and laypersons.
  3. I understand and irrevocably agree that the results of my examination may be made available to my Program Director(s) and/or the American College of Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
  4. I agree that de-identified results of my examination may be used for research purposes by ABOG.
  5. I understand that all ABOG test materials, including, but not limited to, the structured case histories and images utilized during the Certifying Examination, are copyrighted, and it is illegal to disclose the content of the examination in whole or in part to any individual, organization, or business. Furthermore, I understand that if I provide the information to such entities I may be prosecuted under the U.S. copyright laws.
  6. I understand that if I divulge the content of the Certifying Examination in whole or in part to any individual, organization, or business, my test result, if any, will be negated, and I will not be allowed to re-apply for the examination for a minimum of 3 years. Furthermore, if I had been awarded Diplomate status, such status will also be withdrawn.
  7. I understand that I may not record any portion of the Certifying Examination by any means in whole or in part, and a violation will be treated as outlined in numbers 5 and 6 above.
  8. I understand that I may not memorize or attempt to memorize any portion of the Certifying Examination for the purpose of transmitting such material to any individual, organization, or business.     
  9. I attest that since the date of my application for the ABOG Certifying Examination, I have had no limitation or suspension of hospital privileges for cause, substance abuse offenses, revocation, or restriction placed on my license to practice medicine in any state or country. I attest that since October 1, 2018, I have held unrestricted privileges in at least one hospital.
At the time of the Certifying Examination, you also will be required to sign a statement that there has been no change in your hospital privileges since the date of application.

Good Moral and Ethical Character

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.