What are the requirements for certification?

To be eligible for AOA Board Certification, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Graduate from one of the following:
    • A COCA-accredited college of osteopathic medicine.
    • A LCME-accredited medical school in the U.S. or Canada.
    • A medical school outside the U.S., provided you meet one of the following additional requirements:
      • Hold a currently valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) prior to appointment.
      • Have completed a fifth pathway program provided by an LCME-accredited medical school.
  2. Fulfill one of the following training requirements:
    • DOs: Obtain “training complete” status from an ACGME/AOA-accredited approved residency training program.
    • DOs and MDs: Obtain “training complete” status from an ACGME osteopathic recognized residency program with documentation that you completed an “osteopathic focused” track.
    • DOs and MDs: Obtain “training complete” status from an ACGME-accredited osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal medicine residency training program.
  3. Hold an active license to practice in a state or territory. If you have a restricted license, you may petition a specialty certifying board in order to enter the certification process based upon a review of the restriction.
  4. Follow the AOA Code of Ethics.
  5. Meet any specialty-specific requirements for board certification, which may include training and/or documented professional experience.
  6. Pass all required certification exams, which may include written, oral and/or clinical practice components.
What is primary certification?

Primary certification represents a distinct and well-defined field of osteopathic medical practice. Physicians earn primary board certification when they meet all requirements of the certifying board for a specified field of medicine.

What is subspecialty certification?

Subspecialty certification is a modification of a primary certificate to reflect additional training of at least one year in length and satisfactory completion of certifying examination in that field. The training required for subspecialty certification must incorporate a specific and identifiable body of knowledge within the broader practice of the primary specialty. For example, a physician can hold general certification in family practice, with subspecialty certification in geriatric medicine.

Which specialties and subspecialties are offered through the AOA's specialty certifying boards?

The AOA’s Department of Certifying Board Services administers the processes of board certification and osteopathic continuous certification for 16 specialty certifying boards, offering certifications in 29 primary specialties and 77 subspecialties. View the full list.

What is a conjoint examination committee?

A conjoint examination program is formed when the identifiable body of knowledge for subspecialty certification overlaps more than one specialty or subspecialty area.

What does CAQ stand for?

Certification of Added Qualifications. This is a term used solely by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians (AOBFP) to describe a subspecialty certification obtained under AOBFP’s jurisdiction.

How long does it take to become certified?

Duration of the certification process varies by specialty. Please view requirements from your specialty board to learn more.

How long will my certification remain active?

In 2013, all AOA specialty boards transitioned to osteopathic continuous certification (OCC), replacing the previous recertification process. All certificates are time-limited for 10 years or less. You are eligible to participate in OCC even if you hold a non-expiring certificate. The following chart outlines certificate time limits for each osteopathic certifying board.

Anesthesiology 10
Dermatology 10
Emergency Medicine 10
Family Physicians 8
Internal Medicine 10
Neurology & Psychiatry 10
Nuclear Medicine 10
Obstetrics & Gynecology 6
Orthopedic Surgery 10
Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine 10
Ophthalmology & Otolaryngology 10
Pathology 10
Pediatrics 10
Preventive Medicine 10
Proctology 10
Radiology 10
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 10
Surgery 10
What is the AOA’s process for review and approval of certification once a candidate has passed the final certification exam?

Once the AOA Department of Certifying Board Services receives your recommendation for certification from the specialty certifying board, your certification will take approximately eight weeks to process. The AOA is the final approving body for board certification. Prior to activation, AOA staff will verify that your training has been deemed complete by the program, specialty college and the AOA. You will receive written confirmation via email that your certification has been conferred. During this process:

  1. All training and specialty college requirements must be completed to ensure no delay in conferring certification.
  2. You must not claim to be certified until you receive a letter from the AOA conferring certification.
I received my letter from the AOA. When can I expect to receive my certificate?

The AOA will notify your specialty certifying board upon conferring your certification. The specialty board will process your certificate and it will be mailed to the address the specialty board has on file. The process should take no longer than 90 days from the day you receive your letter from the AOA.

Will I receive an electronic version of my certificate?

Yes. A Certified Electronic Certificate (CeCertificate) will be provided to AOA diplomates with initial or OCC certificates issued on or after Nov. 1, 2017.

How do I obtain verification that my certification is currently active?

Please email credentialing@osteopathic.org to obtain a copy of your AOA Physician Profile Report.

How can a third party obtain primary source verification of AOA certification?

Health care organizations, credentialers, and state medical licensing boards can order physician profiles by visiting AOA Physician Profiles. This service is free of charge for state medical licensing boards.

Why would a certification appear as “inactive” on the physician’s profile?

If a physician does not meet the requirements for Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC), his or her certification may become inactive. Physicians should contact AOA Certifying Board Services at certification@osteopathic.org to find out what requirement(s) are not being met.

Now that I’m certified, what do I need to do?

All physicians with a time-limited certificate are required to participate in Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC).

Where can I view my CME report?

View your CME report by logging on to Osteopathic.org and selecting “View CME Report” on the right side of the home page.

Why is the CME I submitted not showing up on my CME report?

It can take up to one week for CME credits to show up on your report. If you believe an error has been made, please contact the AOA Customer Resource Center (CRC) at crc@osteopathic.org  or (888) 62-MYAOA (888-626-9262). The CRC is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

What is OCC?

Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) is a process through which board certified DOs maintain current status and demonstrate competency in their specialty area. The goals for OCC are to provide certified physicians with a process to continually assess and improve their skills and to assure patients and the public that certified physicians are being assessed through reliable and valid measures. Learn more and get details on the four components of OCC.

Who is required to participate in OCC?

All diplomates with time-limited certification are required to participate in Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC).

Will I remain certified if I don’t participate in OCC?

By choosing not to participate in Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC), you are voluntarily suspending the rights to your board certification.

Who has the option of participating in OCC?

If you have a non-time-limited certification, you are not required to participate in Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) at this time; however, you are strongly encouraged to participate. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has agreed to accept OCC for Maintenance of Licensure (MOL). If you do not participate in OCC, you may have additional requirements for MOL as prescribed by the state(s) where you are licensed. Diplomates with non-time-limited certificates will still be required to maintain their license to practice and to maintain AOA membership, including meeting all CME requirements for their specialty.

How do I start OCC for my specialty?

If you are a time-limited certificate holder, each specialty has its own OCC requirements. To learn more, visit your specialty’s website and review the requirements for OCC.

How can I track my progress on the continuous certification requirements?

You can log in to the AOA Physician Portal to  view your progress toward meeting requirements for an Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) cycle.

What happens to my AOA board certification if I have a restricted license?

A subcommittee of the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists has been created to monitor license suspensions on a case by case basis with the input of the individual certifying board.

What components need to be completed before I take an OCC exam?

Component 1 (Active Licensure) must be verified prior to taking an Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) examination.