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    Public FAQs

    1. Why should I care if my physician is board-certified?  

    The American Board of Family Medicine is one of 24 medical specialty boards that make up the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Through ABMS, the boards work together to establish common standards for physicians to achieve and maintain board certification. The boards were founded by their respective specialties to protect the public by assessing and certifying doctors who meet specific educational, training and professional requirements. It is estimated that medical knowledge doubles every 8 years. At that rate, clinicians will need to learn, unlearn and then relearn half of their medical knowledge base 5 times during their career. A board-certified physician is committed to continually refresh and expand his or her knowledge.

    2. How does my physician being certified affect my healthcare?

    Family medicine is the medical specialty that provides continuing, comprehensive health care for the individual and family. It is a specialty in breadth that integrates the biological, clinical and behavioral sciences. The scope of family medicine encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system, and every disease entity. When you or a family member needs health care or medical treatment, you want a highly qualified doctor dedicated to providing outstanding care. When you choose a doctor who is board-certified, you can be confident he or she meets nationally recognized standards for education, knowledge, experience, and skills to provide high quality care in a specific medical specialty. Board certification goes above and beyond basic medical licensure.

    3. Where can I go to find out if my family physician is board-certified?

    Click Here to conduct a general search of our directory, or use a verification feature to check the status of a physician's certification. If you wish to check the certification status of a physician in another specialty, you may visit: www.certificationmatters.org  

    4. What if I can't find my physician in the database?

    This can happen if the information entered about the physician is incorrect. This also can happen if the information that we have on file for the physician has not been updated. Finally, it could also mean that the physician you are searching for is not certified by the ABFM.

    5. How often is the directory updated?

    Data in the directory is updated on a daily basis.

    6. Can I give my doctor a review?

    We do not provide a utility or resource for reviewing physicians.

    6. What is the difference between a medical license and Board Certification?

    A medical license is generally a requirement to practice medicine in the US. A Board certification is not required to practice medicine. Physicians generally obtain certification by choice, or if required to by insurance/employer.

    7. Are all physicians required to be board-certified?

    All practicing physicians are not required to hold board certification. All physicians are required to hold a valid license to practice medicine in a particular state. However, being licensed does not indicate whether a doctor is qualified to practice in a specific medical specialty. One of the best ways to know if your doctor has the qualifications to provide care in a specialty is to find out if he or she is board-certified and participating in activities to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in medicine and patient care.

    8. What is a Diplomate?

    A physician who has met all of the Family Medicine Certification Requirements and successfully passed the Family Medicine Certification Examination to become board-certified in Family Medicine with the American Board of Family Medicine.

     9. Is there information/data supporting that certification helps?

    Studies show a link between Board Certification and high quality medical practice. Both the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) conduct research to further understand how certification helps physicians maintain their skills to provide the best service possible. Click Here for the ABFM Research page showing past and current research. Click Here for ABMS Research page.  

    10. Where can I file a complaint about a physician?

    If you have a complaint regarding a physician, the state medical board would need to be contacted. 

    11. What does it mean if a physician is not board-certified?

    There are many reasons as to why a physician may not have, or may have lost board certification such as not having a full, valid, current and unrestricted medical license, not maintaining their other Family Medicine Certification Requirements, or failure to pass the examination.

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