Steps to Certification
From resident to diplomate: A step-by-step process
How does the board certification process work? Most physiatrists follow this stepwise approach to achieve board certification. Find where you are in the process and you can plan your future.
Complete a post-graduate degree in medicine, achieving either a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy degree.
Get matched and complete a four-year residency program in PM&R.
ABPMR Part I Certification Exam
In your final year of residency, you’ll be able to apply for the Part I Certification Examination, which is a computer-based test administered each year at Pearson Professional Centers nationwide. The test is scheduled for a single day each August, which most people take just after graduating from residency.
Fellowship or Practice
Following residency graduation and the Part I Exam, some physiatrists move on to a fellowship year, while others practice.
ABPMR Part II Certification Exam
The application window for the Part II Examination opens right about the time you get your results from the Part I Examination (September-October). If you pass, you can apply for the Part II Examination, which is an oral examination administered on one weekend in May in Rochester, Minnesota.
If you successfully pass the Part I and Part II Examinations, congratulations! You’re now certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and have set yourself apart as a board certified specialist.
Subspecialty Exam and Certification
If you become board certified in PM&R and meet eligibility criteria for a subspecialty examination, you can take that subspecialty exam (typically after completing a fellowship). If you successfully pass that examination, you’re now subspecialty board certified, too.
Certification isn’t a one-time event at the start of your career. After demonstrating that you meet the competency standard, you commit to keeping your medical knowledge current, your skills sharp, and your quality improving. The ABPMR Continuing Certification (CC) Program provides a framework and tools to do so.
For more information about ABPMR certification requirements, download our certification booklet.
The Certification Examinations
Two exams, one certification
Together, the written and oral exams provide a complete picture of knowledge, skill, and competence in PM&R. Read on for more information about what each exam is testing.
Part I Examination
The Part I Examination is a computer-based, multiple-choice test covering the broad base of PM&R knowledge and practice. With a mix of fact-based and clinical scenario questions, the Part I Examination tests judgment-making and problem-solving skills as well as the ability to identify correct facts and principles.
Part II Examination
The Part II Examination is an oral examination consisting of two separate sessions with four different examiners. The exam is an interactive process between the candidate and examiners, allowing you to demonstrate your expertise and judgment in data acquisition, problem solving, patient management, systems-based practice, and interpersonal and communication skills.