Initial Certification / Residency

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    FAQ: Certification and Continuing Certification

    1. What are the requirements for taking the certification or recertification exam?

    Initial certification requires verification of satisfactory completion of three years in an ACGME-accredited Family Medicine Residency program. Additional information is required for physicians whose medical training was acquired outside the U.S.

    Continuing certification currently requires a minimum of 300 hours continuing medical education acquired in the six years just prior to the recertification exam as well as verification of a valid and unrestricted medical license. As of 2010, the Family Medicine Certification program will be the process by which one qualifies to take the continuing certification examination.

    Complete details for certification and continuing certification can be accessed by reviewing the Candidate Information Booklets. The booklets can be found from the ABFM home page by clicking on the heading “Initial Certification/Residency,” then “Exam Info” on the left and then "Candidate Information Booklets" from the bulleted list.

    2. How do I apply for the examination?

    The application is only available online in your Physician Portfolio which you may access by entering your ID and Password from the home page of our website. Once in your Physician Portfolio, click ”Certification Examination” under the “My Certification” section and then click the blue application button to begin. If you need assistance, please contact the ABFM Support Center. The Support Center can be reached by calling (877) 223-7437 or via email:

    3. What are the deadlines for an application?

    Each exam has specific deadlines that can be viewed by clicking on Exam Dates/Upcoming Deadlines. Generally there is a filing deadline for the application and subsequent late filing deadlines with associated late filing fees. Other components of the application process have their own specific timelines and deadlines as well. After viewing Exam Dates and Deadlines, if you have questions regarding a deadline, please contact our Support Center Staff by calling (877) 223-7437 or by email:

    4. Are review materials available prior to the exam?

    The Board does not provide bibliographies or review materials.

    However, you may find it helpful to read a section on our website titled Exam Preparation which includes study tips and the exam tutorial. You may also review the Exam Descriptions which provide additional information regarding the ABFM exam blueprint.

    5. When is the exam offered?

    The primary family medicine examinations for certification and continuing certification are currently offered in April and November.

    6. How is the exam delivered?

    All ABFM exams are administered on computer at multiple locations around the U.S., Canada, and several overseas locations.

    7. Where is the exam offered?

    The primary family medicine examinations for certification and continuing certification are offered in approximately 477 Prometric Test Center locations including 126 international sites.

    8. When will I be begin participation in the Family Medicine Certification process?

    All physicians who passed the exam in 2003 or after are required to participate in the Family Medicine Certification process. Mandatory participation begins January 1 of the year immediately following your successful exam attempt. For more information about specific requirements, please visit the Continuing Certification section of our website.

    9. Is there a reciprocity pathway for certification between the ABFM and other countries?

    The American Board of Family Medicine has reciprocity agreements with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Royal College of General Practitioners (Great Britain), the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Diplomates of the ABFM may be eligible to seek certification by these colleges. Details can be viewed by clicking the link for each college named above.

    10. If I am a U.S. Veteran or currently serve in the U.S. armed forces can I receive reimbursement for the ABFM Certification Examination?

    The ABFM was approved by the Kentucky Approving Agency for Veterans Education in order to provide an opportunity for U.S. Veterans and those on active duty to receive reimbursement for the ABFM Family Medicine Certification Examination. A Diplomate that wishes to apply for this reimbursement will need to file an application with the Kentucky Approving Agency for Veterans Education. In order to receive reimbursement for the ABFM Family Medicine Certification Examination you need to include with your completed reimbursement application a copy of your receipt showing payment for the examination and a copy of your pass/fail letter from the ABFM. For copies of your receipt and pass/fail letter please log onto your ABFM Physician Portfolio. If you have additional questions regarding the approval process you may refer to the Kentucky Approving Agency for Veterans Education website at Also, please see the attached link for a copy of latest reimbursement application from the Kentucky Approving Agency for Veterans Education.

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