May 15, 2019

From Board Eligible to Board Certified

By Sara Andrabi, MD, YPS Secretary

You finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are coming close to completing residency. Congratulations! This is no easy feat.

Now comes the question, what next? One thing you may start hearing your residency speak with you about is board certification. It’s time for start readying yourself for a career in emergency medicine.There are a few steps that you need to follow to achieve certification:

Register for the ABEM Qualifying Examination

  1. Make sure you are on track to graduate. Meet with your program director (PD) to ensure that all of your requirements for graduating are completed/will be completed on time. You are not able to sign up to take the qualifying exam without the PD’s approval.
  2. Save up some money. Signing up to take written and oral boards costs money, but the earlier you do it the better. Prices range from $960 to $1260, so be prepared and sign up early! Late registration can be up to $300 more.
  3. May: Apply for certification. Once you receive an e-mail, go to the ABEM website and apply for certification. Once your PD certifies that you have completed all components to successfully graduate residency, you will get an e-mail from ABEM to sign up for a date.

Pass the ABEM Qualifying Examination

  1. Work with your scheduler and consider taking some time off or starting with a lighter clinical schedule. Residency is hard work, and you deserve a breather. A lot of new graduates use this to incorporate study time into their daily schedules.
  2. Pick a source that works for you. There are test banks, books, audio and video resources available for board prep. Most people recommend incorporating some type of question bank into board prep routine. ACEP offers PEER, an exam prep tool, and the ACEP resident price is $120 less than the price for regular ACEP members. 
  3. Try your best not to work overnight the day before your exam. You need to be well-rested and ready to go for exam day.
  4. ABEM scores the Qualifying Examination, mailing the results and posting the result summaries online within 90 days of the last day of the examination administration. ABEM will send an email when scores are available.

Pass the ABEM Oral Certification Examination

  1. Receive examination date: Each physician who passes the written exam is randomly scheduled for an oral board examination session in spring or fall of the following year. Make sure you sign up by the deadline. There are late fees up until a final deadline date. After this date, you will not be able to take the exam you were assigned. ABEM understands there are extenuating circumstances and does offer applicants an option to change their examination date, but this is not guaranteed.
  2. Make sure you apply for vacation/days off at least the day before your oral board examination date to account for flight delays and other last minute schedule changes. There is nothing more stressful than a delayed flight before your examination date.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Oral boards is all about practice-running through cases. There are various oral board prep courses available to take. Most require you to travel as they use in-person simulated cases for one to go through. Whether you take a course or buy a book and practice with a friend, make sure to run through as many cases you can. Learn more about the oral exam content and the types of cases covered in the exam. 
  4. The day of the exam: Relax. You got this. Hours stand between you and board certification.
  5. ABEM scores to oral certification examination, mailing results and posting result summaries online within 90 days of the last exam. Once passed, you are a designated as a diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine.
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