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FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Appendix B. ABAM Policy on Potential Paths for ABMS Recognition

The American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) is an independent medical specialty board, established in 2007. ABAM‟s mission is to promote the public welfare and contribute to the improvement of the quality of care in the medical specialty of Addiction Medicine by certifying physicians in Addiction Medicine. Fifteen physicians serve as ABAM Directors. Eight are Specialty Directors from the specialties of Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB-GYN, Pediatrics, Preventive Medicine, Psychiatry, and Surgery. Seven are At-Large Directors. ABAM‟s goal is to gain American Board of Medical Specialties‟ (ABMS) recognition for the specialty of Addiction Medicine, through collaboration with the ABMS and its member Boards.

The ABAM Directors have determined that the core knowledge, skills and scope of practice of Addiction Medicine represent a specialty that is best served by one of three pathways to ABMS board certification: 1. The creation of a new ABMS Conjoint Board (a body established under the joint sponsorship of not less than two ABMS Primary Boards); or, 2. A General Certificate in Addiction Medicine, from an ABMS member board; or, 3. An alternate pathway through an independent specialty board, the American Board of Addiction Medicine. For the alternate pathway, physicians would first complete the requirements for certification by one of the ABMS member Boards, and become certified by an ABMS member Board. Applicants for ABAM certification would then complete an ACGME-accredited Addiction Medicine residency and take the ABAM certification examination. ABAM Diplomates would thus be “double-Boarded”: in their initial specialty, and in Addiction Medicine.

The preferred path within the ABMS to recognize new areas of medical practice has been to establish subspecialty certification programs, some which have participation from several ABMS member boards. There has not been a new specialty board to become a member board of the ABMS since 1991 (the American Board of Medical Genetics). The ABMS approved the subspecialty of Addiction Psychiatry in 1991; this is a single-specialty subspecialty. It would be possible to apply to the ABMS to approve a multi-specialty subspecialty certification program in Addiction Medicine. At this time, ABAM is not planning to apply to the ABMS to approve a multi-specialty subspecialty, and is not requesting that any member Board of the ABMS do so. ABAM is engaged in on-going discussions with multiple interest groups so that we can evaluate, in an on-going manner, the best approach to achieve our goals. Much work is required before ABAM will apply to the Liaison Committee on Specialty Boards (the designated entity to receive such applications) to establish a new specialty board in Addiction Medicine or to apply to the ABMS to approve a multi-specialty subspecialty certification program in Addiction Medicine.

(October 20, 2009, revised April 20, 2010, October 5, 2011) (Path: ABAM – External Relations)

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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.