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FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

When will completion of a residency in addiction medicine be required for a physician to become certified by ABAM?

The ABAM Foundation accredited the first nine residencies in addiction medicine in 2011, with the objective of accrediting an additional 5-10 residencies each year until a sufficient number of training slots are available. While various post-primary-residency training programs in addiction medicine have been in existence at academic medical centers and treatment institutions for decades, this is the first time that there has been a uniform nationwide process of accreditation for graduate medical education programs in addiction medicine. The goal is to establish 15 accredited residencies in 2011–2012, and have 45 accredited residencies by 2020. The objective is to reach a projected number of 7,000 addiction physician specialists who will be needed in 2020 by:

  1. Training about 900 residents;
  2. Maintaining in practice a pool of currently certified addiction physician specialists; and
  3. Certifying via the ABAM written examination a sufficient number of physicians who may not be required to complete a residency to qualify for certification.

It would be counter to the mission and goals of ABAM and The ABAM Foundation to limit the pathways to addiction medicine certification when there is a shortage of addiction physician experts in the workforce. Therefore, ABAM does not have a fixed timetable for imposition of the eligibility requirement of the completion of an addiction medicine residency in order to secure board certification from ABAM.

At some time after the ABMS grants recognition of addiction medicine, completion of an addiction medicine residency will be required by the ABMS member board which administers the certification process in addiction medicine. The time period before the completion of a residency becomes mandatory has historically been 2-3 exam cycles. At the time of ABMS recognition of addiction medicine, ABAM will seek to have all grandfathered Diplomates transferred to ABMS addiction medicine Diplomate status. (See Question 21: What is grandfathering?)

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ABAM offers a Transitional Maintenance of Certification program for its current diplomates and a public listing of physicians who hold active ABAM certification status. In March, 2016 the American Board of Medical Specialties formally recognized addiction medicine as a multi-specialty subspecialty. Future certification examinations in addiction medicine will be administered by the American Board of Preventive Medicine.