Maintenance of Certification

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    Part I—Professionalism

    This component of ABFM Maintenance of Certification (also known as Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians or MC-FP) is designed to assess professional standing, which Diplomates are required to demonstrate throughout the MC-FP cycle.

    Fulfillment of this component requires Diplomates and candidates meet the standards of professionalism, licensure, and personal conduct, as detailed in the American Board of Family Medicine Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal Conduct, (hereafter “Guidelines”) in order to obtain and maintain certification. All currently certified Diplomates as well as physicians seeking certification are subject to this policy, including commissioned medical officers of the armed forces of the United States and medical officers of the United States Public Health Service or the Department of Veterans Affairs of the United States.

    Among the specifics of the Guidelines, physicians are required to continuously hold an active, valid, full, and unrestricted license to practice medicine in any state or territory of the United States or any province of Canada, and all medical licenses held by the physician must be full and unrestricted, regardless of whether or not the Diplomate currently practices in the given state, territory, or province. Diplomates are required to retain a full and unrestricted medical license in the United States or Canada even if they are out of the country for extended periods of time. A physician’s professionalism or personal conduct shall be called into question and reviewed by the Credentials Committee of the ABFM at such time as the physician is sanctioned by a legally constituted entity with control over aspects of a physician’s practice of medicine, including, but not limited to, entities of the Federation of State Medical Boards, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Institutional Review Boards and Ethics Committees of Medical Schools, Hospitals, and Medical Clinics.

    Failure to maintain compliance with the Guidelines will result in the loss of ABFM certification and/or eligibility.

    Institutional, temporary, and training medical licenses do not fulfill the requirements of an active, valid, full, and unrestricted medical license and should not be entered into the ABFM Physician Portfolio. If a candidate uses an institutional, temporary, or training medical license or enters an inaccurate date of initial licensure or renewal in order to complete the requirements for certification and the ABFM determines that the information does not match the records from the licensing state or if the licensee does not meet the Guidelines, the certification will be invalidated. Falsification of any information provided for your medical license is a violation of ABFM policies and could result in withdrawal of certification for an extended period of time.

    Physician’s Responsibility to Report Professionalism Violations  

    It is the responsibility of the physician to inform the ABFM in writing of any compliance issues related to the Guidelines for Professionalism, Licensure, and Personal Conduct. Should a physician be uncertain about whether or not they are in compliance with the Guidelines, a written inquiry should be made to the Board.

    Medical license status changes are required to be reported to the ABFM by the physician through the medical license page in the application or the Physician Portfolio, by letter or email immediately following any change in licensure status. Any medical license currently, or previously, held by the physician that is not currently active, valid, full, and unrestricted (i.e. inactive, volunteer, retired, etc.) may not meet the Guidelines, and must be reported.

    The ABFM reviews periodic American Medical Association Disciplinary Action Reports and also performs individual physician records request with the Federation of State Medical Boards to confirm licensure status as needed.

    Monitoring of Licensure Status  

    The ABFM will monitor the issue/renewal and expiration dates of license information entered through the Physician Portfolio and will issue email reminders of upcoming expirations. Please note that the ABFM does not currently receive licensure data, other than Disciplinary Action Reports, from any other source than the Diplomate. Consequently, it is your responsibility to maintain current license information with the ABFM.

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