Founded in 1969, ABFM is a not-for-profit, private organization whose mission is to improve the health of the public through Board Certification, Residency Training, Research, Leadership Development, and promote the development of the specialty of Family Medicine. As of Summer 2022, ABFM has more than 100,000 Diplomates and is the third largest of 24 boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Through ABMS, the specialty boards work together to establish common standards for physicians to achieve and maintain board certification.

ABFM was the first purely primary care specialty board of ABMS. ABFM administered its first Certification Examination in 1970 and was the first ABMS specialty board to issue time-limited certificates, requiring recertification every seven years over the Diplomate’s (the term used to describe a board-certified physician) professional lifespan. Other notable facts include being: the first board to require continuing medical education (CME) for re-certification; the first, and currently only, board to include other specialists on its Board of Directors; the only board that has the same standard of knowledge for initial certification as it does for recertification; among the first to have public members on its Board; and the only one to publish its own journal.

ABFM’s primary role is to support family physicians who are committed to achieving excellence in improving the health of their patients, their families, and their communities. Certification is voluntary, requires attaining high standards and a lifelong commitment to learning and professional development. In addition to maintaining the highest ethical standards, Diplomates must continuously hold medical licenses which meet the licensure requirements of the Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal Conduct. Every 10 years, Diplomates must pass an independent test of medical knowledge. What follows gives more detail about each of the components of certification, along with the rationale and current evidence of effectiveness.

ABFM stands with those who oppose racism and violence: A Message from ABFM Board of Directors.

American Board of Family medicine Mission

ABFM's mission is to improve the health of the public through:

  1. Certification: ABFM certifies family physicians who are highly skilled and effective at improving the health of their patients, their families, and their communities, and assists Diplomates in maintaining high professional standards through professional development and lifelong learning.
  2. Training Standards: ABFM sets standards for the training that prepares Family Medicine residents for board certification.
  3. Research: ABFM funds, conducts, and publishes research that is devoted to creating, evaluating, and maintaining cutting-edge certification methods, and to advancing the scientific basis of Family Medicine.
  4. Leadership Development: ABFM cultivates leaders in Family Medicine to expand the specialty’s contribution to the health of the public.
  5. Collaboration: ABFM collaborates with other specialty boards and organizations to promote better health care, drive better outcomes, and manage health care resources responsibly.