Training requirements for initial ABFM Family Medicine Certification include:

Medical school completion

Residency completion

  • Satisfactory completion of three years of training (defined as a full 36 calendar months with 12 months in each of the PGY-1, PGY-2, and PGY-3 years) in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited Family Medicine residency program. If your residency program does not meet ACGME requirements, your training will not be recognized by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Satisfactory Completion of Residency 

ABFM prefers that all three years of your family medicine residency training occur in the same ACGME-accredited program, or its equivalent (e.g., Flexible/Transitional Year, AOA Osteopathic Internship, etc.). However, we recognize that circumstances may occur that lead you to change specialty and/or location of residency training. In these cases, your residency program must notify ABFM that you are entering training with advanced placement credit, using the RTM system.  This must be done before you start at the new program in order to count toward your minimum requirements for board eligibility. If the necessary information is not submitted before the start of your training at a new program, this could extend the duration of your training.

The last two years of your family medicine residency training must be completed in the same accredited program, to allow for satisfactory continuity of care experience. Transfers after the beginning of the PGY-2 year are approved only in extraordinary circumstances. All education and training experiences are subject to review by ABFM before you are approved to take the Family Medicine Certification Examination.

Examination Timing Related to Completion of Training 

The examination for residents seeking initial certification is administered in April and November each year.

  • If you expect to complete training by June 30, you will automatically be provided the application link for the April examination.
  • If you will complete your training between July 1 and October 31, you may be eligible to apply for the April examination based on a recommendation from your residency program director. This will need to be submitted through the RTM system.
  • If you expect to complete your residency training between November 1 and December 31, you will be permitted to apply for the November exam.
  • If you will complete your training between January 1 and April 30, you may be eligible to apply for the November examination based on a recommendation from your residency program director. This will need to be submitted through the RTM system.

All applicants for the Family Medicine Certification Examination are subject to the approval of the Board, and the final decision regarding any application rests solely with ABFM. To be eligible to take the examination, certification requirements will need to be satisfactorily met and your exam fees paid in full.  


Final Verification 

Successful completion of the certification examination is one major step to becoming board certified, but it is not the only step. Your residency program must also verify your satisfactory completion of residency training through the RTM system. The effective date of your initial certification will be the date on which you have met all certification requirements:

  1. Successful performance on the Family Medicine Certification Examination
  2. Program Director verification that you have met all the ACGME program requirements
  3. Continuous compliance with ABFM Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal Conduct which includes holding medical license(s) which meet the licensure requirements of the Guidelines